Use of prescription painkillers skyrockets in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City (AP) _ The use of prescription painkillers in Oklahoma is skyrocketing with the percentage of Oklahomans using the five most common painkillers up 145 percent from 1997 to 2005.  Those five are codeine, hydrocodone, meperidine, morphine and oxycodone.

An Associated Press analysis of statistics from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration shows Oklahoma eighth among the 50 states and District of Columbia in the use of the painkillers.  Some health analysts say doctors are emphasizing management of pain and that may be part of the reason for the increased use of prescription painkillers.

But law enforcement officials say prescription drug abuse is another reason.  Mark Woodward with the State Bureau of Narcotics says there are an estimated 87,000 Oklahomans addicted to prescription drugs.  He says the most common addictions are to hydrocodone which is found in vicodin and lortab and to oxycodone that's found in percocet and oxycontin.

Oklahoma also ranks high in the use of morphine and meperidine which is the active ingredient in demerol.

(Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)