Department of Health Reports Rise in Alcohol-Related Deaths in 2018

SANTA FE, NM – The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reports an increase in alcohol-related deaths in New Mexico in 2018, when 1,544 New Mexicans died from alcohol-related causes. That is up six percent from 2017, when there were 1,461 alcohol-related deaths. New Mexico has had the highest alcohol-related death rate of any state in the U.S. since 1997.
Alcohol-related deaths include all deaths from causes that are 100 percent alcohol-attributable (such as alcohol poisoning), and a fraction of deaths are due to causes that are partially alcohol-attributable (such as fall injuries and suicide). About a third of all alcohol-related deaths in New Mexico are due to chronic liver disease.
“It is tragic to see this number of deaths and the increase in the death rate in 2018,” said NMDOH Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “Far too many New Mexicans die due to excessive alcohol use. If you are concerned about your alcohol use, please see your primary care provider to discuss your concerns.”
In the five-year period of 2014 and 2018:
  • Death rates were higher for men (93.1 per 100,000 people) than women (39.3);
  • McKinley and Rio Arriba counties had the highest death rates (166.1, and 144.8 respectively;
  • Harding and Los Alamos counties had the lowest death rates (22.3 and 30.5 respectively);
  • American Indians/Alaska Natives bore the highest burden of alcohol-related deaths with a death rate of 170 per 100,000 people for those five years.
The Department of Health operates drug and alcohol abuse programs and treatment centers in New Mexico, including Turquoise Lodge Hospital in Albuquerque, the New Mexico Rehabilitation Center in Roswell and the Southwest Pathways Program in Las Cruces.
Most people who die from alcohol-related causes do not have alcohol use disorder. Excessive alcohol use (including binge drinking or heavy drinking) is most often the cause of alcohol-related harms including alcohol-related deaths. Heavy drinking is consuming more than seven drinks a week for women, or more than 14 drinks a week for men. Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion for women or five or more for men. Additionally, any alcohol use by people under 21 or by pregnant women is considered excessive.
For more information about alcohol use in New Mexico, visit https://nmhealth.org/about/erd/ibeb/sap/.