Prescription Drug Abuse in Oklahoma

March 13th, 2014
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sources-of-medicationPrescription drug abuse is a public health crisis in Oklahoma, contributing to over eight hundred deaths in 2012. In our new fact sheet on the topic, we provide a quick overview of the issue, dispel a few myths, and suggest policy reforms going forward.

Some highlights:

  • Prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury death for Oklahomans ages 25-64. Most drug-related deaths involve more than one drug. Alcohol overdoses were responsible for no deaths on their own, but contributed to 95 deaths involving multiple substances.
  • The vast majority of those who abuse prescription painkillers don’t purchase them from the stereotypical dealer on street corners. Almost 9 out of every 10 Oklahomans who used prescription pankillers nonmedically got them from their doctor, a friend, or a relative. Only four percent purchased the painkillers from a dealer.
  • Lock-in programs for people prescribed high quantities of certain drugs and increased prescriber use of the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program could substantially reduce prescription drug abuse in Oklahoma.
  • Studies have found chronic pain may actually be undertreated in Oklahoma and across the United States. Our goal cannot be to simply restrict access to painkillers, but to reduce the need in the first place.

Learn more by downloading the fact sheet here.