Highest death rate from alcohol


New Mexico has the highest death rate from alcohol of any state.  It is a public health crisis of major proportion.  All of us in New Mexico should be concerned.

Lives lost to alcohol have touched many of us in a personal way and this is true of some of our state legislators as well. I have had three friends that mixed prescription drugs (Valium and Xanax) with alcohol. I believe one died from such a dangerous combination.  And the remaining two play Russian roulette with their lives.

This brings me to mention that frequently alcohol is self-medication for depression and/or anxiety. Alcohol fails, however, as it is a depressant to the central nervous system. It only brings the person further down. These individuals who self-medicate need proper medication and therapy for the effective treatment of their depression and/or anxiety.

In an effort to slow the mortality rate and provide more monies for treatment and rehabilitation, Rep. Joanne Ferrary proposed a bill for a 25-cent drink tax.  Then, this past session, a second bill addressing alcohol use was presented by Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena.  This muddied the waters, as there were now two competing bills.

Rep. Ferrary had the stronger bill, and even offered to compromise with a 12-cent per drink tax. However, Rep. Cadena and her supporters still chose to sink the bill and it failed to clear the House Tax and Revenue Committee. And Rep. Cadena 's bill went nowhere.  So no alcohol tax came out of this year's session.

I find this most disappointing. Rep. Ferrary had a strong bill, even supported by MADD and the DWI Resource Center. She offered a compromise that was rejected. 

Politics is the art of compromise. Rep. Ferrary has learned this, but as of yet Rep. Cadena has not. And so the state comes away empty-handed. There is no alcohol tax this year. And we, the people of New Mexico, are the losers.


Kathleen Sampson

Las Cruces

Letter to the editor, alcohol death rate, New Mexico