- Associated Press - Thursday, July 16, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Health officials are attributing a spike in overdose deaths to a rise in prescription opiate abuse.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports (http://bit.ly/1MwCr8N) health officials saw two years of improving numbers before this year’s 20 percent jump in drug-related deaths from 2013.

New Mexico’s overdose deaths reached 26.4 per 100,000 people, among the worst in the country.

Department of Health epidemiologist Dr. Michael Landen says the new data shows the state is right back where it was two years ago.

He said prescription opiates like oxycodone have become more available in the last decade and are responsible for just over half of the overdose deaths statewide.

Santa Fe County’s Health and Human Services Division director Rachel O’Connor says the public needs more education on the dangers of prescription drugs.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com

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