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Oklahoma Prescription Drug Addiction

What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Morphine, Adderall, oxycodone and Valium – each of these medications has a component that is psychoactive or mind-altering in some manner. When used as prescribed, this effect is beneficial. However, some people in Oklahoma abuse prescription medications as a means to get high, promote weight loss or enhance concentration.

Oklahoma prescription drug addiction is a deadly problem. Each year, hundreds of Oklahomans lose their lives due to prescription drug abuse. Some signs that you or a loved one may suffer from prescription drug abuse include:

  • Taking a drug with the express purpose of getting high.
  • Using a drug via a route that isn’t its intended purpose, such as crushing and snorting or injecting the medication.
  • Taking more of a medication than is prescribed.
  • Taking a medication that hasn’t been prescribed to you.

A common misconception surrounding prescription drug addiction is that the medicines are not as harmful because they are legal. However, prescription drugs can be just as deadly as street or illegal drugs. This is why it is vital to seek drug rehabilitation treatment if you or a loved one suffers from prescription drug abuse.


Oklahoma Prescription Drug Addiction and Abuse Statistics

Of the 739 overdose deaths in Oklahoma, four out of five were related to prescription medications, according to NewsOK. Oklahoma is the number one state in the United States for prescription painkiller abuse. The second-most responsible for painkiller abuse is Oregon, followed by Rhode Island.

According to the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, hydrocodone was a factor in 153 overdose deaths in Oklahoma, followed by oxycodone, which was a factor in 144 deaths. The next-largest contributor to overdose deaths in Oklahoma was Xanax, which was a factor in 139 overdose deaths. Sadly, medications like methadone, which is designed to help a person beat his or her addiction to opiates, also contributed to 99 overdoses in the state. The next most-abused prescription medications were morphine and fentanyl.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Oklahomans’ prescription painkiller abuse is 232 percent greater than the national average. Of those who abuse prescription painkillers, 17 percent obtained the painkillers from a doctor while 72 percent received the medication from a friend or relative. Only four percent of those polled said they obtain the medications from a drug dealer.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that 8.13 percent of individuals in Oklahoma used painkillers for non-medical purposes in the past year. This is about 237,945 people.


Commonly Abused Drugs


Doctors prescribe opiates to relieve pain. Examples of opiates include morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone (Dilaudid). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more people overdose from prescription opiates than from all other drugs combined.

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse: Opiates cause a person to feel drowsy, slow breathing and can cause a person to experience feelings of euphoria when taken in larger amounts.

Categories of Prescription Drugs: Most opiates are Schedule II drugs, meaning they have high potential for abuse.

Effects on the Brain: Prescription opiates work on the opiate or pain-relieving receptors in the brain. This can also have the effect as a central nervous system depressant.

Health Risks: Health risks from opiate abuse include sleepiness, poor coordination, nausea, respiratory depression and poor memory. Opiate abuse can also prove deadly due to its effects on a person’s breathing, which can lead to brain injury.

Treatment Options: Medications are available to help a person reduce his or her withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opiates. Examples include methadone and Suboxone. However, these medications can be potentially harmful. Behavioral health counseling can also help.


Sedatives are central nervous system depressants designed to relieve anxiety. Examples of these medications include alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium).

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse: A person abusing sedatives may show signs similar to those of alcohol intoxication, such as sleepiness, slurred speech, slowed breathing and poor coordination. Sedative abuse can cause affect a person’s memory.

Categories of Prescription Drugs: Benzodiazepines are sedatives that are in the Schedule IV drug category. While these may not be as high a schedule as opiates, they can be highly addictive and harmful when abused.

Effects on the Brain: Sedative medications can work in similar ways in the brain as illegal sedating medications such as GHB and Rohypnol.

Health Risks: Health risks from taking sedatives include dependence and drug withdrawal symptoms, which include anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, poor appetite, fast heart rate and seizures. When taken in very high amounts or when mixed with other medications and/or alcohol, sedative abuse can cause a person to slip into a coma.

Treatment Options: Tapering programs, counseling, behavioral therapies and group programs are all treatments that a person can use to help reduce his or her dependence upon sedatives



Stimulants are drugs that speed up the body’s systems. Examples of stimulants include amphetamines (Adderall and Dexedrin) and methylphenidate (Concerta and Ritalin).

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse: Signs a person may be abusing stimulants include exhilaration, heightened self-esteem, improved mental performance, reduction in appetite and staying awake for a long time.

Categories of Prescription Drugs: Stimulants are Schedule II medications that have high potential for abuse.

Effects on the Brain: When taken other than as recommended, stimulants can have a similar effect on the brain as taking cocaine does.

Health Risks: Frequent stimulant abuse can cause agitation, hostility, panic, aggression, paranoia and suicidal tendencies. People can quickly build up a tolerance and may take more of a medication. The results can be dizziness, tremors, chest pain, sweating, vomiting and stomach cramping.

Treatment Options: Examples of treatment options for stimulants include drug tapering plans as well as individual and group counseling.


Seek Professional Help

If you suffer from an addiction to prescription drugs, help is available at an Oklahoma rehabilitation facility. Seeking rehabilitation treatment can help you turn your life around. You don’t have to suffer alone.