Addiction in Oklahoma and Oklahoma City

Photo by thomasmales/

For those who’ve never experienced drug addiction before (or for those trying to help someone else get clean), the subject of addiction can seem a little elusive. It’s one of those problems that one assumes always just “happens to other people.” That's why, when a drug crisis hits close to home in one’s household or family, it can come as quite a shock.

It helps to examine drug problems in specific geographic regions, to see what the issues are there and what might be done about them. Take Oklahoma for example. Oklahoma is struggling with a severe prescription drug addiction crisis. The crisis is in urban areas like Oklahoma City, but it's also in rural communities.

Local and National Statistics – Why It’s So Critical that Addicts Get Help

Oklahoma had a terrible prescription drug crisis in the early-2000s. Then the state became one of the most meth-torn states in the nation. From 2010 to 2016, meth overdose deaths by Oklahoma residents increased by more than 265 percent, from 91 deaths in 2010 to 333 deaths in 2016. But as soon as meth addiction began to recede slightly after 2016, prescription drug addiction rose again. Now the most widespread drug problem in this state is once again prescription drugs.

Between 1999 and 2016, more than 750,000 Americans died from drug overdoses nationwide. Over 10,000 Oklahoma residents died from drug overdoses during that same period. In 2018, about 43 percent of all overdose deaths in Oklahoma involved an opioid. In fact, in that same year, the number of fatalities involving an opioid was five times higher than in 1999.

Opioids on the shelf
Photo by Pureradiancephoto/

In 2016, Oklahoma providers wrote almost 80 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in the state, compared to a national average of 51 prescriptions for every 100 persons. Oklahoma is one of the leading states in the nation for misuse of pain medicine. The result? Every day, at least one Oklahoman dies from an opioid overdose.

The drug problem as a whole is severe nationwide, but the prescription drug problem in Oklahoma is especially severe. In this state, opioid prescription drugs are so common that virtually everyone knows someone who uses painkiller drugs. Since the most common way to get prescription drugs is from a family member or loved one, this has set the stage for a pill epidemic in Oklahoma. Only seventeen percent of addicted OKC residents get their prescription drugs from a doctor, while 72 percent get their pills from a relative or friend.

In 2010, Oklahoma had the fourth-highest death rate from unintentional poisonings in the nation. At one point, Oklahoma surpassed the national average for misuse of prescription painkillers by 232 percent. That might explain why unintentional poisonings are the leading cause of injury-related death for Oklahomans ages 25 to 64.

The stark prevalence of addictive prescription drugs in Oklahoma has already launched an addiction crisis. In just four years, 3,553 Oklahoma residents died from drug overdoses. Exactly 2,509 of those deaths (70 percent) involved prescription drugs. In just one year, prescription drugs claimed more lives than meth, heroin, and cocaine combined.

Prescription drug addiction is so prevalent in Oklahoma that Oklahomans are more likely to die from a prescription drug overdose than they are to die from a motor vehicle crash. Although drug prescribing has begun to recede in recent years, at the height of the overdose crisis practitioners were prescribing enough pills to give every Oklahoma resident 110 pills.

And prescription drug addiction is not the only serious drug problem in Oklahoma. Adolescent alcohol abuse is also a severe problem in this state. Teenage alcohol abuse often puts young people on a path of substance abuse that eventually leads them to prescription drug abuse later on. In Oklahoma, 32 percent of young people admit to drinking alcohol.

Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Oklahoma City Residents

Drug addiction is a debilitating and potentially fatal crisis. When people can become addicted to pharmaceutical drugs (the substances that are supposed to help them), that makes it easy to feel hopeless and betrayed. Thankfully, drug and alcohol rehab centers exist to help people in Oklahoma City and across the state overcome their addictions for good.

Located in Canadian, Oklahoma, Narconon Arrowhead is ideal for helping people who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction in Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas. Narconon Arrowhead offers an environment that is dedicated to one thing:

  • Helping people who struggle with addiction overcome their crisis for good.

Narconon Arrowhead does not view addiction as a “disease” or addicts as “victims” or “patients.” Narconon Arrowhead offers a detailed approach to helping students learn how to overcome addiction. Narconon Arrowhead helps people rebuild their lives without drugs.

Narconon Arrowhead utilizes a drug-free withdrawal program, the New Life Detox program, Objectives, Life Skills courses, and other treatment methods found nowhere else on Earth. Narconon Arrowhead offers one-on-one care, personalized attention, and a level of compassion that makes rehab work.

Narconon Arrowhead’s success is measured by the thousands of students who’ve come through the program and are now leading meaningful, drug-free lives. If you or someone you care about has fallen prey to drug addiction, now is the time to change. Now is the time to create a better life. Now is the time to reach for sobriety and achieve it. Call Narconon today to help your loved one take the first step towards a drug-free life.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.