Senator Richard Martinez Introduces a Package of Legislation Aimed at Reducing the Staggering Number of Unintentional Drug Overdose Deaths

Press Release January 25, 2012
Media Contact

Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384</p>

(Santa Fe) – Senator R. Martinez (representing Rio Arriba, Los Alamos and Santa Fe counties) has introduced a package of legislation (SB90 and SJM21) aimed at reducing the epidemic of unintentional drug overdoses. New Mexico’s overdose prevention programs are a national model. Unfortunately, not enough people know they exist or how to access services.

"I’m asking the Legislature and the Governor to act with compassion and common sense. These deaths are preventable,” stated Senator Martinez. “Overdose spares no one and affects everyone, especially families.”

SB90 makes a $200,000 appropriation to the Department of Health to fund a statewide overdose prevention and awareness campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to educate New Mexicans about where and how to access the overdose reversal drug Narcan; how and where to access medically assisted treatment (Methadone and Buprenorphine); and, to educate New Mexicans about the 911/Good Samaritan law that provides legal protections for those seeking emergency medical assistance for overdoses.

SJM21 supports a study to enhance and expand New Mexico’s overdose prevention programs, including exploring cutting-edge, evidence-based programs such as medically supervised injection sites. Medically supervised injection sites have proven to prevent overdose fatalities, increase access or referrals to addiction treatment programs, and save taxpayers by reducing costs associated with emergency room visits, crime and violence. Medically Supervised Injection Sites are operating in 27 cities around the world, including in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sydney, and Oslo. SJM21 has been endorsed by the New Mexico Public Health Association.

A newly issued report on drug overdose deaths in the United States from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found New Mexico to have the highest overall overdose death rate of any state. New Mexico suffered 27 overdose deaths per 100,000 people, more than two times the national average. Since 1991, the overdose death rate has increased 242%.

“Time is not on our side — lives are at risk,” said Emily Kaltenbach, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office. “Let’s stop treating drug overdose as a moral failure and started treating it as a health problem to be solved.”

Senator Martinez has been a leader in promoting substance use treatment, education, and compassion. In 2007, he sponsored the 911/Good Samaritan bill that was signed into law. New Mexico was the first state in the nation to pass this law.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation's leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

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