High Demand, Strong Supply Drive New Mexico’s Heroin Problems

Stan Padilla has been using heroin for 45 years. On this cold December morning, he’s taking time to visit an Albuquerque syringe exchange to pick up clean gear for his habit.

“I just look out for myself,” said Padilla. “’Round here there isn’t no friends, when it comes out to drugs and money, it’s all about trying to use each other. It’s the way it is. It’s the drug business for you.”

He’s 61 years old, an Albuquerque native, and says he’s cut his habit down to using about once a month.

“I’ve been using since 1968, that’s when it was good,” said Padilla. “Now it’s nothing but black tar. It’s cut up to hell now. It’s no good no more.”

Another option for Padilla is pills: Klonopin, Percocet, Vicodin or Oxycontin. However, Padilla says the pills are expensive.

“Depends on how high of a dose they are,” said Padilla. “They’re pretty expensive. Up to $60 each for one pill.”

Compare that to $20 for a shot of heroin, which essentially does the same thing.

New Mexico has a drug problem. The state routinely holds close to the top position nationally for overdose deaths. No one has a clear reason why — some say poverty or unemployment, or easy access to drugs along distribution routes north.

Listen here at the Fronteras Desk.

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tristan ahtone

Tristan Ahtone is an award winning journalist and member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. Born in Arizona and raised across the United States, he was educated at the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Columbia School of Journalism. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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