The Rising Opioid Crisis in Oklahoma

All over the country, the opioid crisis in Oklahoma continues to rise. The misuse of prescription pain relievers and other forms of opioids contribute to the crisis. With most substances, like drugs and alcohol, people make the decision to take or drink them. However, opioids can sometimes start off as a simple fix to pain from an injury or some other reason and can cause more issues. There could be nothing illegal with how you get the prescription drugs and without even knowing after some time you can become dependent on it.

Statistics on Opioids

  • In 2018, the cause of deaths from a drug overdose involving opioids totaled to more than 308 deaths.
  • In 2018, about 67,367 deaths caused by drug overdoses were reported. About 46,802 of those deaths were in relation to opioids.
  • The number of heroin, 79 deaths, or synthetic opioids, 84 deaths, has remained steady
  • In Oklahoma, for every 100 people providers prescribed 79.1 opioid prescriptions. Compared to the U.S. average which was 51.4, Oklahoma rated higher.

Opioid addiction impacts so many people, you are not alone. If you or someone you know struggles with substance addiction, you can call 405-583-4390 to get help. You can also visit our Rehab Treatment page to learn more.

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The Long History of Opioid Crisis in Oklahoma

It is concerning how something that a doctor, or other medical providers, prescribes can end up exploding and causing so much harm. Around the late 1990s, the pharmaceutical companies informed the health and medical community that prescribed opioid pain relievers could not become addictive to their patients. This then leads to the distribution of prescription opioids that pharmaceutical experts reassured were safe. After that, people realized that people can in fact get addicted to opioids, no matter whether prescribed or not.

The number of deaths from opioid overdose began to rise. Recently in 2017, more than 47,000 people in the U.S. overdoses on opioids and died. About 1.7 million people suffered from an addiction to prescription opioids in that same year. Starting with a rate of 6.1 percent in 1999, with a massive increase in towards 2009, a small incline occurred in 2017 with a 20.7 percent rate. Out of the top states with the highest numbers of deaths involving opioids, Oklahoma saw a decline in deaths from 251 in 2017 to 172 in 2018. While it may take some time to control this crisis, some improvements can provide some positivity.

The Impact of the Opioid Crisis on Oklahoma

Often when people imagine a drug addict, though may go to someone homeless or unemployed who appears messy or in a certain way. However, addiction does not have one specific person it hits, drugs do not control who gets them. A middle-class person might go to a doctor for back pain and be prescribed opioids. Without knowing, sometimes after using these pills, they fall dependent on them. In Oklahoma, about 85 percent of people with drug dependencies or addictions go untreated. Some may not know they have an issue until it is too late.

The Effects of Opioid Crisis

Since 2015, opioids inflict about 28 percent more death in the U.S. By 2018, about 43 percent of deaths were from opioid-related drug overdoses in Oklahoma. Some people responsible for the crisis have begun to pay for it. In Norman, a judge found that Johnson &Johnson played a part in Oklahoma’s opioid crisis and would have to pay $572 million. This drug and crisis not only affects adults but also children. In 2016, about 5,182 children were placed in foster care, with 46 percent of these being because of substance abuse. More babies suffer from opioid withdrawal after birth and this can lead to many health risks.

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What Makes Seeking Treatment Difficult

While some people may seek out certain drugs on their own, opioids might be more accessible and used for medical reasons. Doctors might prescribe opioids for pain to help their patients and for a while opioids were assured to not being addictive. Although opioids have long been proven to be addictive by that time it had already a great impact on many people. While people can get prescribed pain relievers, they can get addicted to them without knowing it. Not knowing you have an issue can make it difficult to look for treatment. If you do realize there is an issue, seeking treatment can still feel shameful and scary. Some people may live in rural areas with limited treatment options, which can stop them from seeking help. Money and health insurance can also be obstacles but remember you have options.

Possible Solutions to Opioid Crisis

While there is no one solution or treatment to end the crisis, people suffering from addiction can receive help and can contribute that way. Getting educated on the topic of drugs and addiction can also be beneficial. When using prescribed pain relievers, people should follow the medical provider’s instructions and only take them as needed. Avoid using pills longer than advised or until the pain lessens but stop immediately if dependency starts to occur. While doctors and health providers have a big responsibility in helping with the crisis, educators, law enforcement, and others can also help. While it is a national crisis, every individual can make a difference. Another possible solution can be helping people with healthcare assistance so they can get the help they need.

How to Overcome Opioid Crisis

Over the years, a slight decrease of opioid-related deaths occurred, but the crisis continues. The opioid crisis does not focus on one demographic or type of person but can impact almost anyone. While opioids are usually prescribed for pain, when people become dependent on them it can lead them to other illicit drugs. It is important for people to follow the medical provider’s directions when taking prescribed drugs. People who develop an addiction should seek treatment immediately.

An opioid addict might not appear exactly how you would imagine other drug addicts, and it does not take away from the urgency of getting them help. If you notice someone showing signs of addiction, make sure to check on them and find out what they need. They might not know they have a problem, but by helping them it can change their life. Once you seek treatment for you or a loved one, it can make a huge difference and bring you one step closer to recovery.


Help battle the opioid crisis and addiction with treatment. Please call us at 405-583-4390 to learn more. Or visit our Treatment Programs and other pages to get more information.

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