OBN Visits Lawton to Help Fight Prescription Drug Abuse - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

OBN Visits Lawton to Help Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

LAWTON Okla_ Despite Oklahoma's drug prevention efforts, the state is still among the nation's leaders when it comes to prescription drug abuse, particularly among women.

Tuesday, officials with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics met with several drug prevention organizations in Lawton in hopes of coming up with ways to combat that specific problem.

In the last ten years, drug overdose deaths have gone up 77 percent in Oklahoma. Last year alone, there were 830 overdose deaths. That's 100 more than traffic deaths. The most alarming statistic, however, is the growth in overdoses among women. Last year in Oklahoma, there were 1,400 non-fatal drug overdoses in women, 400 more than men.

Chris Smith of the OBN said that men still have a higher rate of drug overdoses deaths, but overdoses in women are still the fastest growing epidemic, and the highest age group of abusers is 46 to 55-year-olds. He said education is the key to stopping that rise.

"A lot of people have the perception that a prescription drug is safe because it is prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacist in most cases," Smith said.

He said they are safe only if used correctly, which is often not the case. These prescription drugs are highly addictive, and the worst is that many addicts started from having a legitimate medical problem. Smith said 78 percent of last year's drug overdoses came from pharmaceutical drugs, not street drugs. He said education is not just needed for patients; doctors could use more as well.

"We'd like to see some more counseling with the doctors," Smith said, "As far as the effects of these drugs and how to properly use them."

Smith said Oklahoma still has some work to do, and they can do that by modeling New York City's program. He said New York City uses their law enforcement and drug prevention organizations to help educate. In Oklahoma, the organizations educate, and the law enforces. He said right now, a bright future for Oklahoma is up in the air.

Here are a few more alarming statistics for you. Last year in Stephens County, there were 20 overdoses, putting it as one of the highest overdose rates in Oklahoma. Also, out of all the non-fatal overdoses, more than half the medicine was not prescribed to them. They instead got it from a friend or family member.

Governor Mary Fallin will reveal Oklahoma's new plan on how they will fight prescription drug abuse on Dec. 19.

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