Reports show the severity of the opioid epidemic in Oklahoma

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The opioid epidemic is sweeping all the of the United States and the recent rise of fentanyl is making the crisis even more deadly. Oklahoma is no exception. Recent reports show that while Oklahoma is making some progress in its attempts to slow the increasing addiction and overdose rates, the state still has a long way to go.

A report published earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 32 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties saw decreases in the number of opioids prescribed to people from 2010 to 2015. The numbers in 12 counties remained stable and 15 counties did not have information available.

Meanwhile, 18 counties increased the number of opioid prescriptions given out during the five-year period. Pittsburg County led the state in the highest amount of Opioids prescribed in 2015. It also had the seventh-highest rate of opioid-related deaths according to State Health Department data.

Across the nation, the CDC found that the overall number of opioids prescribed from 2010 to 2015 decreased by 18 percent.

While the CDC report had some good news for both Oklahomans and all Americans, recent data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) paints a more troubling picture. Legally prescribed opioid prescriptions may be decreasing, but non-medical use of prescription opioids remains a serious problem in Oklahoma.

The SAMSHA findings place Oklahoma as the national use of non-year medical use of prescription pain relievers from 2012-2014, with a prevalence of 5.31 percent among people 12-years-old and older. Our state was followed by Alabama, Arkansas, and Nevada.

In comparison, the state with the lowest past-year non-medical usage rates was Minnesota with 3.41 percent.

Despite the high rates within Oklahoma, SAMHSA’s data reinforces the CDC’s report regarding national opioid abuse trends. SAMHSA found that nationally the non-medical use of prescription opioids decreased during the study time period.

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