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Prescription drug overdose becoming a problem in The Borderland

The number of drug overdoses in both El Paso and New Mexico this year.

There have been multiple drug overdoses in the borderland this year.

Just recently, the Drug Enforcement Agency began investigating six overdoses in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

Experts said the rise is tied to a higher demand for painkillers.

“Most recently there has been a lot of issues around prescription medication and heroin,” said Susie Villalobos who works for Alliviane prevention and treatment.

Villalobos said heron and pain medication are some of the Borderland’s biggest problems. She said both types of drugs go hand-in-hand.

“We know that those drugs are here and that we have to find a strategy and tools to tackle this problem,” Villalobos said.

The Albuquerque Journal reported six overdose deaths in Ruidoso, all having to do with the pain killer fentanyl.

Villalobos said fentanyl can be 30 times more powerful than oxycodone.

Some of the reports are saying fentanyl is smuggled through Mexico,” Villalobos said. “But most of it is pre-packaged in Asia. So it does cross the border, but sometimes it doesn’t stop here. It might go to Albuquerque or it might go to Atlanta and then it’s tracked back to the border.”

Villalobos told KFOX14 2016 alone in El Paso has 43 drug overdose deaths. While the New Mexico Department of Health reported 20 overdose deaths, including the six in Ruidoso.

Here is a statement from the New Mexico Health Department regarding the overdose deaths this year:

The New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator are investigating 20 drug overdose deaths in New Mexico in 2016 likely caused by illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

Of these 20 deaths, 11 also had methamphetamine present in toxicology results. Their ages ranged from 17 to 63 years. Eighty-five percent were male. The counties of residence included the following counties: Bernalillo (5), Chaves (2), Lea (2), Lincoln (2), Colfax, Eddy, Guadalupe, Otero, Sandoval, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Valencia, and one unknown.

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF), including fentanyl analogues (e.g. acetyl fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, butyryl fentanyl), has been increasingly seen alone or in combination with other drugs as a cause of drug overdose death nationally. IMF is among a group of synthetic opioids sometimes substituted for and sold on the street as heroin, oxycodone or other drugs, and has a potency many times higher than that of morphine. People who knowingly or unknowingly use these drugs are at high risk of overdose and death.

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