Serving the High Plains

Study: New Mexico has nation's worst drug problem

New Mexico has the biggest drug problem of all 50 of the United States and the District of Columbia, according to a study by Wallethub.

The personal-finance website compared the states’ 20 key metrics, including arrest and overdose rates to opioid prescription use and employee drug-testing laws.

New Mexico’s rank in these aspects:

— First, share of teenagers who used illicit drugs in the past month;

— Third, share of adults who used illicit drugs in the past month;

— Seventh, drug overdose deaths per capita;

— Second, share of adults who couldn’t get treatment for illicit drug use in the past year;

— Eighth, substance abuse treatment facilities per 100,000 people (age 12 and older) using illicit drugs.

Wallethub stated New Mexico “lags behind other states when it comes to putting policies in place to discourage drug use or help people overcome it,” especially with no employee drug testing laws.

Wallethub also stated New Mexico’s overdose rate is high and growing faster than most other states.

Rachelle Moon of the Quay County Health Council stated in an email that its Partnership Addressing Substance Struggles committee is working with Frontier Communities through a Partnership for Success grant “to bring awareness and education about the impacts of substance use in our community and especially our young people.”

“Since the Health Council has had this grant, we’ve learned the top substance-misuse issues in Quay County are long-term alcohol use, prescription and illicit fentanyl use and nicotine use in teens, particularly vaping, and more recently cannabis use due to high THC levels in cannabis products,” she wrote.

“Our hope is to continue educating the community on how to avoid substance-misuse issue and live the healthiest life they could imagine.”

Moon said the council’s PASS committee meets every third Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. at the Quay County Extension Office at 216 E. Center St. in Tucumcari.

West Virginia was ranked by Wallethub as having the second-worst drug problem in the country, with Nevada third-worst.

The rankings of neighboring states to New Mexico: Colorado (fifth-worst), Oklahoma (ninth), Kansas (19th), Arizona (20th) and Texas (33rd).

The state with the least drug problems was Hawaii, with Utah just behind it.

The data was collected on April 3 from a variety of federal agencies and organizations.

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