The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) is working to address the alarming increase in prescription drug deaths in the state. OBN Spokesman Mark Woodward says drug-related deaths have risen 126% since 2001. And according to Woodward, nearly 80% of those drug deaths in Oklahoma involve prescription drugs.
“There are several reasons that attribute to this troubling trend. “, according to Mark Woodward, OBN Spokesman. “Recreational drug abusers seek prescription drugs because of the powerful euphoria many of these painkillers provide. It is easier to feed their addiction by stealing the medications from the home of a family member or friend rather than risk a street drug deal for heroin or other illegal drugs. Many of these deaths resulted from people getting addicted to prescription drugs after some type of injury or accident. Over time, the addiction can lead to abuse and overdosing. Also, many teenagers are taking medications from parents and abusing, trading or selling the pills to obtain alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. Often, teens will mistakenly think prescription drugs provide a safer “high” than street drugs.”
OBN Director R. Darrell Weaver says his agency is working aggressively to reverse this alarming trend.
"The drug overdose deaths continue to be a grave concern for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. Tragically enough, 78 % of all the overdose deaths are from prescription drugs which give new challenges when dealing with the acceptability and accessibility of these substances. We are working tirelessly and relentlessly in attempt to stop these escalating numbers in our state by redeploying agency assets in attempt to halt this troubling trend. Prescription drug abuse is rapidly becoming one the biggest threats to safety of our citizens and families. We must join together with our medical professionals and citizens to fight such a worthy opponent to our well-being in our State."
OBN is working with the Oklahoma medical community to target individuals fraudulently visiting physicians to obtain prescriptions to feed an addiction. OBN also works with medical professionals to utilize the agency’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) system. The PMP tracks a patient’s prescription drug history, allowing physicians and law enforcement to intervene when a patient is suspected of visiting multiple doctors and medical facilities to obtain prescription drugs. OBN also has installed drug disposal container boxes in 122 police and sheriff’s department lobbies for the public to safely dispose of unwanted medications in the home that are often targeted by teenagers or prescription drug addicts. The public can find a complete list of disposal box locations on the agency’s web site at www.ok.gov/obndd.