Oklahoma is constituent state of the United States of America. It borders Colorado and Kansas to the north, Missouri and Arkansas to the east, Texas to the south and west, and New Mexico to the west of its Panhandle region. In its land and its people, Oklahoma is a state of contrast and of the unexpected. The terrain varies from the rolling, timbered hills of the east to the treeless high plains that extend from the Panhandle region into Texas and New Mexico.
Oklahoma's east-central region is dominated by the lowlands of the Arkansas River, sweeping in from Colorado and Kansas, and by the Red River, which forms nearly its entire southern border with Texas. The capital is Oklahoma City, located near the center of the state.
For White Americans ages 20-54, unintentional poisonings — primarily accidental prescription drug overdoses — have surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of death related to unintentional injury. This stands true for the state of Oklahoma.
The problem is especially bad in Oklahoma, which in 2010 boasted the fourth-highest rate of death via unintentional poisoning in the US. According to the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), Oklahomans exceeded the national average for misuse and abuse of painkillers by an absurd 232 percent - a 22 percent increase since 2004.
For Oklahomans ages 25 to 64, unintentional poisoning is the leading cause of injury death. The majority of unintentional poisoning deaths result from the misuse and abuse of opiates (painkillers), distantly trailed by benzodiazepines aka Benzos (anti-anxiety medications). In the year 2007 in Oklahoma, prescription painkillers were responsible for 427 deaths — more than meth, heroine, and cocaine combined. Indeed, opiate addiction, which was once almost synonymous with heroin addiction, now almost exclusively refers to prescription medication in Oklahoma.
The vast majority of those who abuse prescription painkillers do not purchase them from the stereotypical dealer on street corners. Almost one in five (17 percent) of those who used prescription painkillers non-medically in Oklahoma were prescribed the medication by a doctor; 72 percent got the medication from a friend or relative, and 60 percent of those were given the medication for free (eight percent purchased the medication from a friend or relative, and four percent took the medication without asking). Only four percent purchased the painkillers from a dealer.
The users of these drugs are also not who we might expect. As The Oklahoman wrote: The casualties of drug abuse are not just hard-core addicts who buy bootlegged meth, crack and heroin from street dealers: they're middle-aged and middle-class Oklahomans who start taking pain pills for bad backs and other injuries, never dreaming they could wind up tumbling down the slippery slope of addiction, or worse yet, dying from an overdose.
Between 1999 and 2016, more than 10,000 Oklahomans died from a drug overdose. In 2016, 54 percent of all overdose deaths in Oklahoma involved an opioid. In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (prescription opioids and illegal opioids) was five times higher than in 1999.
In 2016, enough opioids were prescribed in Oklahoma for every adult in the state to have more than 100 pills. Oklahoma leads the nation in non-medical use of pain medicine, and has the highest percentage of individuals 12 and older who use medications for non-medical reasons.
On average, one Oklahoman dies everyday from an opioid overdose. In 2017, Oklahoma providers wrote 88.1 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons - a 30 percent decline since 2012, when the rate was 127 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons (per the CDC).
The rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions has also declined from 11.8 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2012, to 6.7 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2017 (Figure 2).
In 2017, there were 388 overdose deaths--- involving opioids in Oklahoma — a rate of 10.2 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. The most significant decline occurred among deaths involving prescription opioids, from 444 deaths in 2012 to 251 deaths in 2017.
Deaths involving synthetic opioids (mainly Fentanyl) have remained steady since 2010 with 102 deaths reported in 2017. Those involving heroin have increased threefold since 2011 from 17 deaths to 61 deaths in 2017.
NAS or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) may occur when a pregnant woman uses drugs such as opioids during pregnancy. State specific data on the rate of babies born with NAS/NOWS in Oklahoma is unavailable.
Of the new HIV cases in 2016, 293 occurred in Oklahoma. Among males, 16.6 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to opioid abuse or male-to-male contact and opioid abuse. Among females, 13.5 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to opioid abuse.
In 2015, an estimated 5,774 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in Oklahoma — a rate of 179 cases per 100,000 persons. Of those, 18.6 percent of male cases were attributed to opioid abuse or male-to-male contact and opioid abuse. Among females, 26.3 percent were living with HIV attributed to IDU.
In 2016, 32 cases of acute HCV (0.8 cases per 100,000 persons) were reported in Oklahoma. Among those, 62.5 percent were attributable to prescription drug abuse (per the CDC). In Oklahoma, there are an estimated 53,900 persons living with Hepatitis C (2013-2016 annual average), a rate of 1,840.0 cases per 100,000 persons. A significant amount of these cases are attributable to opioid and prescription opioid abuse.
By all accounts, prescription painkiller abuse in the US and in Oklahoma in particular, is now an epidemic. Annual costs of unintentional poisonings in Oklahoma top $40 million. After the prescription drug overdose of University of Oklahoma football linebacker Austin Box, the state officials go together and started to devise plans that would help curb the prescription drug abuse problem in the state.
The good news is that there are numerous centers of treatment and rehab. There are many types of treatment centers such as long term addiction treatment facilities, short term drug abuse treatment, outpatient detoxification programs, outpatient substance abuse treatment services, inpatient drug abuse treatment and others.
There is a wide range of drug and alcohol rehab facilities available. They include individual psychotherapy, dialectical behavior therapy, couple/family therapy, trauma therapy, trauma-related counseling, cognitive/behavior therapy and others, to name a few. If you need rehab in Oklahoma, all you need to do is place a call to any of the available rehab centers.
If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is imperative that you look for professional help as soon as you possibly can. However, you might not know where to start or the options that are open to you. Similarly, you may have little to no idea about the differences between the different treatment facilities and the programs they have in store for their patients.
Do you need help finding the right drug or alcohol rehab facility in your area?
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