Oklahomans Battle Prescription Addiction

Wednesday, May 15th 2013, 10:44 pm
By: News 9, Robin Marsh

Morgan was 20 years old when she started experimenting with prescription drugs she took from a family member.

"It was just for the fun of it," this young mother said. "I liked the effect of it and then I couldn't stop."

Then Morgan started working at a doctor's office where she said she stole a prescription pad and forging her own prescriptions. Unable to care for her two young children, Morgan remembered a breaking point.

"I had Maddox and I had Baylor, my 4 year old," Morgan recalled. "Baylor could not get me to wake up and my parents just gave me an ultimatum: You're either going to get help or you're not going to have a place to live."

One of the main issues that Department of Mental Health Commissioner Terri White says leads to prescription drug abuse is people perceive that it's safer because it's medicine.

Learn more about treatment options in Oklahoma.

The problem doesn't get much worse than in Oklahoma. Several studies rank Oklahoma first in the number of people struggling with prescription addiction, in every age category, from 12-65 years old.

"This isn't happening in someone else's school district," White said. "This isn't happening in somebody else's neighborhood. This is happening across our state."

But more women are seeking treatment in Oklahoma, like Jenny. She got hooked on pain killers after she was injured in a car wreck.

"What they had given me wasn't enough," Jenny said. "I started taking more than what I was prescribed. It just seemed the more I took, I higher I got. I couldn't get out of bed in the mornings without them. It got to where I'd be short with my son if I didn't have anything."

Commissioner White said combating the problem starts with education on many levels.

"It starts with taking responsibility in the healthcare industry, making sure we only provide medications when necessary and only the amount needed, and that we monitor the people we're providing them to."

There's something we can all do as well, by keeping our medication locked up or stored away for no one else to get to and properly disposing of medications we are no longer taking. Many communities and doctor's offices have secure drop boxes to get rid of medication.  We can also purchase a prescription lock box at the pharmacy.

Morgan and Jenny said without treatment, they would still be using. They've completed treatment at Jordan's Crossing, where their children were able to stay there with them.

Oklahoma and Prescription Drug Abuse

Oklahoma has the 4th highest unintentional poisoning death rate in the nation

81% of those deaths involve at least one prescription drug

Fatal drug overdoses have more than doubled over the past 10 years

The most common pain killers involved in overdose deaths:

* Hydrocodone

* Oxycodone

* Alprazolam