Prescription Drug Abuse in Oklahoma

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.

Learn More // Do More


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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