Prescription drug addiction has become an undeniable problem in Oklahoma. According to stats released by the state, 1 in 12 people abuse prescription painkillers.
Turning The Tide
The state says it wants to stop the crisis and has already released plans to turn the tide. However continued budget cuts are making change difficult to come by.
Let's meet Truly Nash - a young mother of 2 children living at Jordan's Crossing. She's a recovering drug addict. Here's her story: Nash was on heroin for 6 years. It was terrible. She felt sick anytime she didn't get a fix. As she narrates her story she shudders at the thought that her nightmare started with a prescription pill. She admits to using drugs while pregnant and is glad that her kids weren't harmed. It's tough for her to tell people that she was looking for drugs while carrying a child but talking about this and other mistakes she did is part of her recovery process.
For most addicts, heroin comes next after the prescription drugs. Lindsay Perry is in her early 20's and is mother to a 2-year old boy. She also resides in Jordan's Crossing. Lindsay became addicted to prescription drugs while still in Junior high school and before she graduated from high school, she was already on heroin.
Lack Of Funds Threatens To Derail Progress
In some sense both Nash and Lindsay are lucky. Not all people in need of residential care for an addiction in Oklahoma get it. Nash had to wait behind bars for months before finding space. According to the facility's CEO, Verna Foust, they've had to turn people away because of limited funds. At the moment, they only have the capacity to serve a third of the population. All is not gloomy though; the Jordan's Crossing facility is one of a kind - it allows women to stay with their kids.
Foust was even more frustrated by the news that behavioral health and addiction services were to face even more cuts this year. "I hate it. It makes me sick." Was what he said. Nonetheless there is some headway. The state-wide prescription monitoring program was working.
Hitting Drug Addiction From All Quarters
Pharmacists and doctors in Oklahoma are now required to run your name through the PMP if you’re trying to get any opiate. It helps them check out your prescription history. As is evident, this measure is aimed at stopping pill shoppers and those lying about a medical condition. The plan is working.
According to Mark Woodward (who works with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics), hitting addiction from all angles is bound to cut down prescription drug deaths by over 50% among other key milestones. As it is, only time will tell.
The 'Take As Prescribed' program includes a website aimed at educating the local community about the dangers of prescription drugs. It even encourages people to get rid of unused medication. These can be dropped at the over 170 drop sites across the state. As much as budget limitations still weigh down some programs, the future isn't that gloomy.