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.

Advertisements

Tristan Ahtone

Tristan Ahtone is a member of the Kiowa Tribe and serves as associate editor for tribal affairs at High Country News. He has reported for PBS NewsHour, National Native News, Wyoming Public Radio, NPR, Al Jazeera America, Indian Country Today, and National Geographic, and more. Tristan’s stories have won multiple honors, including investigative awards from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Gannett Foundation. He additionally was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to study at Harvard University in 2017. He is president of the Native American Journalists Association.

Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s