Group rallies for prescription medication abuse awareness

Group rallies for prescription medication abuse awareness

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla._A Lawton Walgreens pharmacy tops the list in a new report linking unintentional deaths from prescription drugs to the stores that dispense the highest number of them.

The study from the Oklahoma Health Authority looked specifically at prescriptions for people on SoonerCare, the state's Medicaid program. It found that a Walgreens store in Lawton filled the most pain prescription drugs in the state from April 2014 to March 2015.

Last year alone, more than 800 Oklahomans died due to drug overdose. Of those, 80 percent were due to prescription drugs such as oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone.

A rally raising awareness on the abuse of prescription drugs was held at the state Capitol Monday. They're calling it an epidemic that must be controlled. Several of the speakers included people who've struggled with prescription drug abuse or lost a loved one due to taking the pills.

Shelly Brown says she's all too familiar with the devastating effects of drug abuse. She says at a young age, her son started experimenting with synthetic marijuana and that's when she asked for help.

"I had the sheriff's department come out, clean his room out, made him write an essay and start testing," Brown said.

Brown says her son started to do better and even started going to a recovery center. But just when she thought he had escaped the stronghold of drugs, unbeknownst to her, he had fallen back into the cycle and this time was abusing prescription drugs. She says two years later, just one month before his 18th birthday, he was dead after overdosing on prescription medication.

"I couldn't believe it happened to my son. How I didn't see the signs or help him to prevent it, but if you aren't aware of something then you just don't know," she said.

She says that's why she's attended the rally Monday, honoring the beautiful soul she says she lost too soon.

"This is reality, it does happen and I don't want anyone else to go through what I've had to go through," she said.

OBN director Darrell Weaver says prescription drug abuse is the number one problem in Oklahoma. More than 800 overdose deaths were reported in our state in 2014, 80 percent of those were from prescription drugs.

"Prescription drug abuse affects everyone. It doesn't make any difference what your economic status is. It doesn't make any difference of the color of your skin. It just doesn't make a difference and can affect all Oklahomans," Weaver said.

Weaver says the OBN is dedicated to finding ways to resolve the drug abuse problem in Oklahoma.

"Any way we can find a loop or something that we as agencies can do to cartel this, that is what we want to do," Weaver said.

Jeannette Cosby, with "We Care," says awareness begins with the people. She says prescription drugs, if not careful, are often misleading.

"I think people have this false sense that prescription drugs are safe because they are prescribed by a doctor, and that they know what they are talking about," Cosby said. "As Americans, we want that quick fix that one pill that's going to is everything and doctors just give us what we want."

While some of the medication is needed medically, properly putting away the pills prevents other from gaining access to them.

"If you have a safe at home put them in your safe. If you can store them in a safe place away from kids and family members that's the best thing you can do," Cosby suggested.

Cosby says getting as much information out on prescription drug abuse is what the goal has been at the rally.

"One life is worth it to me, and I think many others would agree," Cosby said.

Through all of Brown's struggles, she says she will continue to fight for her son and has a message for those who are struggling today.

"Find help, find a support system. It's a hard battle, but you can win," Brown said.

Brown now works for a mental health facility where she assists those recovering from prescription drugs.

The OBN highly encourages people to get rid of their unused or expired prescription drugs. Designated drop boxes for the pills are located at the Lawton Police Department and the Comanche County Sheriff's Office.