Heroin deaths among young worries NM officials

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials say they are worried about a statistically significant rise in the number of heroin overdose deaths among people under age 21.

Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil says only about 2 percent of heroin deaths were in people in that age group from 2004 though 2007. But the percentage rose to 8 percent in 2008 and 12 percent last year.

Vigil says in a statement that substance abuse prevention is key to preventing such deaths.

The overall accidental overdose rate per 100,000 New Mexico residents decreased slightly in 2009. Prescription drug deaths held steady for the second year in a row after a considerable increase in 2007. Heroin, cocaine and methadone overdoses decreased while methamphetamine, antidepressants and sedative overdoses increased.