- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 4, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico health officials say the number of drug overdose deaths in the state increased in 2018, largely due to methamphetamine use.

The Health Department reported Wednesday that overall drug overdose deaths among residents rose more than 9% from 491 in 2017 to 537 in 2018.

That marked the second largest number of overdose deaths recorded in the state. There were 540 deaths in 2014.

Officials say methamphetamines were the driver for last year’s overdose death rates. More than one-third of overdose deaths involved methamphetamine in 2018, up from 31 percent in 2017 and 12 percent in 2012.

Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel says her agency’s work to address drug use is evolving and that the focus will include meth use as well as ongoing efforts aimed at prescription drug abuse.

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