Prescription drug abuse is Oklahoma’s largest drug problem and International Overdose Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.
Almost 10 people die every week of a prescription drug overdose in Oklahoma. Prescription painkillers – opioids – are the most common class of drugs involved in overdose deaths in Oklahoma, involving more than 80 percent of prescription drug-related deaths. In recent years, the numbers of unintentional poisoning deaths have surpassed deaths from motor vehicle crashes. More unintentional poisoning deaths involve prescription painkillers than alcohol and all illicit drugs combined. Adults aged 35-54 years have the highest death rate of any age group for prescription overdoses over time.
International Overdose Awareness Day spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. OSDH asks the public to wear silver to show support.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s (OSDH) Injury Prevention Service offers the following suggestions for preventing prescription drug overdoses:
• Only take medications as prescribed. Don’t stop or change the dose of a drug on your own without consulting your doctor first.
• Never share or sell your prescription drugs.
• Don’t be an accidental dealer. People who abuse/misuse prescription drugs may get them from friends or family. Dispose of unused, unneeded or expired prescription drugs. To find a local drop box, visit https://portal.obn.ok.gov/takeback.
• Keep all pain medications in a safe place to avoid theft and access to children.
• Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.
• Never drink alcohol while taking medication.
• Naloxone is a safe and effective drug that reverses an opioid overdose. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
• Call 211 for help finding treatment referrals.
• Put the Poison Control number 800-222-1222 on or near every home phone and cell phone for 24/7 access.
• If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, react to this true emergency by calling 911 immediately.
For more information on prescription drug overdose prevention, contact the OSDH Injury Prevention Service at 405-271-3430 or visit http://poison.health.ok.gov. For help finding treatment referrals, call 211. To report illegal distribution or diversion of prescription drugs, call the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control at 800-522-8031.