The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is joining forces with the Coalition Against Rx Drug Epidemic (C.A.Rx.E) to raise awareness of the prescription drug overdose epidemic in Oklahoma. The event will take place Monday, Aug. 31, at the Oklahoma State Capitol (south plaza) from 11am – 1pm.
Guest speakers will include: Gail Box, mother of former OU football player Austin Box; Deputy Commissioner Steven Buck with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; William Banner, Jr., with the Oklahoma Poison and Drug Information Center; Director Darrell Weaver with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control; and Bruce Carlton, sharing his personal recovery story. Additionally, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics will be sponsoring a take-back event for the public to safely dispose of expired or unused medications.
Prescription drug abuse is Oklahoma’s largest drug problem. Of the more than 4,600 unintentional poisoning deaths in Oklahoma from 2007-2013, about 80 percent involved at least one prescription drug and almost 90 percent of those deaths involved prescription painkillers (opioids). Unintentional poisoning deaths have now surpassed motor vehicle crash deaths as the leading cause of injury death. More unintentional poisoning deaths involve hydrocodone or oxycodone, both prescription painkillers, than alcohol and all illicit drugs combined. Adults aged 35-54 have the highest death rate of any age group for prescription overdoses over time.
OSDH offers the following suggestions for preventing prescription drug overdoses:
· Tell your healthcare provider about all medications and supplements you are taking; opioids in combination with other depressants such as sleep aids, anti-anxiety medications, or cold medicine can be dangerous.
· Only take medications as prescribed and never more than the recommended dosage; use special caution with opioid painkillers.
· Never share or sell prescription drugs.
· Dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs at approved drug disposal sites.
· 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.
· Put the Poison Control number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and cell phone for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access.