Prescription drug abuse is Oklahoma’s largest drug problem, taking a toll on too many Oklahomans and their families. Of the more than 5,300 unintentional poisoning deaths in Oklahoma from 2007 to 2014, about 80 percent involved at least one prescription drug and nearly 90 percent of those deaths involved prescription painkillers (opioids).
In recent years, the numbers of unintentional poisoning deaths have surpassed deaths from motor vehicle crashes. More unintentional poisoning deaths involve hydrocodone or oxycodone, both prescription painkillers, than alcohol and all illicit drugs combined. Adults ages 35-54 years have the highest death rate of any age group for prescription overdoses.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) offers the following suggestions for preventing prescription drug overdoses:
- Tell your healthcare provider about all medications and supplements you are taking. Opioids, in combination with other depressants such as sleep aids, anti-anxiety medications, or cold medicine, can be dangerous.
- Only take medications as prescribed and never more than the recommended dosage. Use special caution with opioid painkillers.
- Never share or sell prescription drugs.
- Dispose of unused, unneeded or expired prescription drugs at approved drug disposal sites.
- Call 211 for help finding treatment referrals.
- Keep all pain medications in a secure place to avoid theft and access to children.
- Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.
- Never drink alcohol while taking medication.
- Put the Poison Control number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and cell phone for 24/7 access.
If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately.
For more information on prescription drug overdose prevention, contact the OSDH Injury Prevention Service at 405-271-3430 or visit http://poison.health.ok.gov. For help finding treatment referrals, call 211. To report illegal distribution or diversion of prescription drugs, call the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control at 1-800-522-8031.