New Mexico is one of the Mountain States and has one of the least densely populated statuses. However, that doesn’t stop it from having a diverse population and fascinating history. In fact, New Mexico has some of the most unique inhabitants that include indigenous peoples of America, descendants of Spanish colonies and Latin American immigrants. The two largest tribes are Navajo and Pueblo, and they have brought in much influence over the years.

Even with a low population and good-natured residents, drug and alcohol abuse is not absent from the New Mexico culture. In fact, drug and alcohol addiction is one of the state’s largest and more serious problems, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. At The River Source, we have helped many patients from New Mexico recover from their drug and alcohol addictions, and our community remains a top choice for residents because of our close proximity and similar climate.

Why Addiction is Prevalent in New Mexico

When delving deeper, one must ask the question, “What makes this quiet, desert state a target for drugs and alcohol?” One of the main factors is its prime location. New Mexico is one of the Four Corners, which is a region where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah join together. The state also borders Mexico, which is a direct route for land trafficking. It’s easy to smuggle drugs over the border and quickly move these illegal substances into other parts of the country.

We’ve also learned from some of our own patients that there is a large percentage of Hispanics in New Mexico who use drug trafficking as their source of livelihood. With this in mind, the continuous flow of drugs is never-ending because it’s money for these families.

New Mexico also has several larges cities, including Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Like any metropolis, both Santa Fe and Albuquerque have plenty of late-night clubs that bring in drugs like ecstasy, LSD and GHB. And because there are vast areas of remote desert land, it’s easy to host raves as well. We have patients who live in both the cities and suburbs of New Mexico, and both admit that the drug culture is steadily evolving because of these factors.

How Does New Mexico Compare to Other States?

New Mexico often falls low on the radar compared to other states, which is why it’s often overlooked when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Compared to other states, however, New Mexico’s rates of death are double the national rate, and alcohol consumption is the leading cause of premature death in the state. It is also the most commonly used substance after tobacco. Alcohol is responsible for the high rates of motor crashes, suicide and homicide in the state. With Mexico a short distance away, Mexican drug organizations also distribute multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine, heroin, meth, club drugs and marijuana.

A Close Look at the Numbers

Below is the percentage of the New Mexico population using and/or abusing drugs.

Illicit Drugs Age 18+
Past Month Illicit Drug Use 1 9.24%
Past Year Marijuana Use 10.60%
Past Month Marijuana Use 6.78
Past Month Use of Illicit Drugs Other Than Marijuana 1 3.74%
Past Year Cocaine Use 2.85
Past Year Nonmedical Pain Reliever Use 5.72
Alcohol Age 18+
Past Month Alcohol Use 47.79%
Past Month Binge Alcohol Use 2 22.7%
Past Year Dependence, Abuse & Treatment Age 18+
Illicit Drug Dependence 1 1.97%
Illicit Drug Dependence or Abuse 1 2.93%
Alcohol Dependence 4.02%
Alcohol Dependence or Abuse 8.22%
Alcohol or Illicit Drug Dependence or Abuse 1 9.97%
Needing but not Receiving Treatment for Illicit Drug Use 1,3 2.68%
Needing but not Receiving Treatment for Alcohol Use 3 7.92%
Serious Psychological Distress 12.65%
1 – Illicit Drugs include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-like psychotherapeutics that are used non-medically. Illicit Drugs Other Than Marijuana include cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants or prescription-like psychotherapeutics that are used non-medically2 – Binge alcohol is defined as drinking five or more drinks in the same setting on at least one day in the past 30 days3 – Needing But Not Receiving Treatment refers to the respondents needing treatment for illicit drug or alcohol use but not seeking specific treatment at a facility

4 – Major Depressive Episode is defined as having a period of at least 2 weeks where a person experienced a depressed state of mind or loss of interest in daily activities. They also have the symptoms listed in the DSM-IV

Source: National Survey on Drug Use & Health, 2004 and 2005, SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies

Having at Least One Major Depressive Episode 4 7.68%

Why New Mexico Residents Should Seek Treatment in Arizona

For those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, treatment in a different state can be the fresh start that is needed. When seeking treatment in a state like Arizona, New Mexico residents are greeted with the same calming desert landscape, warm weather and sunny skies. The familiarity is comforting, but the new location is empowering. Fortunately, Arizona borders New Mexico, keeping families within close reach while removing the negative source of influences.