Although prescription drug abuse has become the nation’s drug epidemic those in Oklahoma have known all too well the problems faced in the Sooner state. Nowadays Tulsa County ranks 16th out of all counties in the U.S. for prescription painkiller deaths.  Thankfully, the Coalition Against Prescription and Substance Abuse of Tulsa (CAPSAT) brought this to attention via an event titled Take Back Tulsa Rx Drug Abuse held at the Oklahoma State Center for Health Sciences on Friday May 15th.

Coalition Against Prescription & Substance Abuse Tulsa

CAPSAT’s mission is to bring diverse organizations and individuals together to change policies, systems, and environments for the prevention of prescription and substance abuse.  The main objective of the coalition is the prevention of non-medical prescription drug and opioid abuse through education, training, treatment, research, and enforcement.

Goals are:

  1. To reduce the retail and social availability of opioid and non-medical use of prescription drugs through education, training, treatment, intervention, and enforcement within the city of Tulsa.
  2. Work to develop access to prevention resources, treatment options, and referrals to treatment for non-medical use of prescription drugs and/or opioid abuse.
  3. Work to develop city-wide accurate data collection methods and/or systems for capturing usage of non-medical prescription drugs and/or opioid abuse and related crimes.

Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention in Tulsa County

The forum was attended by 100 or so treatment and prevention providers in and around Tulsa and kicked off by Dr. Craig W. Stevens Ph.D., OSU Center for Health Sciences, and Betsy Graham, Injury Prevention Coordinator and RN with St John Medical Center. Matthew Condley with the Tulsa Health Department then gave an overview of CAPSAT and their role in the community combating addiction with education, research and training.

Although Tulsa County and the surrounding areas are a concern CAPSAT focuses their efforts on four zip codes primarily due to the overwhelming problem concentrated in these areas. 74115, 74105, 74136 and 74133 are shown to be more prevalent with prescription drug problems. All prescription drugs are abused which include benzodiazepines, stimulants and opiates with the latter being the main drugs posing the problem.

Mrs. America 2015 and former Mrs. Oklahoma 2014 Michelle Evans spoke to the group about how prescription drug abuse has affected her life with the loss of her brother in 2010 from overdose. He had had 8 leg injuries due to a career ending soccer injury which led to his addiction to narcotic painkillers. Having made exposing the problem with prescription drugs her platform Mrs. Evans intends to have a positive impact not only in Oklahoma but throughout the country. She wants to help people and save lives with her efforts.

There were three panelist who spoke to the group that included David Hale, Agent in Charge with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, Barrett Hesson, MS, LADC/MHC of Palmer Continuum of Care Inc., and Dr. Edwin C Yeary II, MD at St John Medical Center.

Mr. Hale spoke of what they were seeing with OBN and what OBN was doing to curb the problem with awareness programs and prescription drug take back events, three of which were being held the next day Saturday the 16th at various locations around Tulsa. These include two Reasor’s grocery stores at 71st and Sheridan and 41st and Yale along with a Save-A-Lot located at Pine & Lewis. These take back events are held twice a year and the spring and summer. Mr. Hale emphasized that there are take back drop boxes year round at police stations and sheriff’s office but most people are not aware these exist. With more awareness programs he hopes to change that.

Barrett Hesson discussed what Palmer Continuum was experiencing with their youth and really pushed more prevention programs and programs that help youth develop coping skills. Dr. Yeary spoke on the responsibility of the medical community and the effectiveness of Oklahoma’s prescription drug monitoring program in preventing ‘doctor or pharmacy shopping”.

Dr. Daniel Morris of Precision Pain Management spoke for a few minutes and informed the audience due to the costs and time constraints, doctors receive very little training in prescribing and drug abuse in general prior to starting their practice. Insurance companies are much quicker to cover prescription drugs than any kind of behavioral or physical therapy he said.

During the Q & A there were several passionate members of the voicing their concern. One being a local physician stating he was appalled at the irresponsibility of the many in his field and another man who volunteered to assist any prevention programs who may need a body to carry out programs or tasks.

Narconon Arrowhead certainly looks forward to assisting these efforts in any way possible. There is only one way out of this mess - everyone banding together and focusing efforts. Kudo’s to those who are helping.