Youth Drug Overdose Rate Skyrocketing in Oklahoma

Big Problems in the Addiction Field in Oklahoma

Drug and alcohol addiction in the United States today has become a serious problem with the young adult population of the country. This is a demographic that has always been to one degree or another affected by substance abuse but now it is one of the worst affected in the entire country. Studies show that today, the average American youth’s first use of drugs is that the age of 14 whereas prior to the turn of the century it was 18.

For the interest of the reader, Oklahoma had the 14th highest rate of youth drug overdose deaths in the nation from 2011 to 2013, with a staggering rate of nine deaths per 100,000 youths, ages 12 to 25, according to a report released just a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, the national rate was only seven deaths per 100,000. Additionally, Oklahoma was one of just 12 states that saw its youth drug overdose death rate triple over the past 10 years alone. This is all according to a report done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, (www.cdc.gov).

These are just a couple of the statistics that point a finger in the direction of an alarming rise in addiction in the state of Oklahoma, particularly amongst the young adult population of this state. If something is not done soon about this, it will certainly only get much, much worse.

Youth Drug Overdose Death Rate Triples in Oklahoma

There is a common denominator here of course. The increase in youth drug overdose deaths is largely tied to increases in prescription drug misuse and the later on related doubling in heroin use by 18- to 25-year-olds in the past 10 years alone, according to the report from Trust for America’s Health, (healthyamericans.org). From this study it was found that an estimated 45 percent of people who use heroin are also addicted to prescription painkillers. There is a big back and forth movement between these two drugs in Oklahoma, and it occurs the most with the young adult population of this area

  • “More than 90 percent of adults who develop a substance use disorder began using before they were 18,” said Mr. Jeffrey Levi, executive director and leader of Trust for America’s Health. In his statement he further said that, “Achieving any major reduction in substance misuse will require a reboot in our approach, (starting with a greater emphasis on preventing use before it starts really), intervening too, and providing support earlier and viewing treatment and recovery as a long-term commitment.”

In recent years starting around 2008, Oklahoma has seen its overall rate of prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths skyrocket to rates higher than almost all other states, with the state seeing some of the highest rates of drug abuse in the nation in fact. Additionally, Oklahoma has seen the number of residents dying from heroin increase as well. This is what has contributed to Oklahoma having one of the highest death counts per capita in the nation.

Addressing the Problem with Rehabilitation

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, (www.drugfree.org), provided statistics of a different sort than the norm. The decade ending with 2010 saw a drop in parents who were proactive in communicating an anti-drug message to their children. This is very unfortunate because studies also show that the parents are the first line of defense against kids using and abusing drugs. Slightly more than 30 percent of surveyed parents admitted to avoiding the subject altogether. Further troubling drug prevention advocates were the parents who did not monitor the use of over-the-counter drugs found in the medicine cabinet. Although one in ten teens confessed to using cough syrup to get high, only half the parents were paying attention to the amount consumed! This needs to be changed as soon as possible or more and more kids will abuse these drugs.

This is exactly the type of problem that Oklahoma is having. Parents aren’t willing to discuss drugs with their kids here, and this leads to more drug abuse amongst young adults as a result. This is where rehabilitation comes into play. With rehabilitation, thankfully anyone can beat any drug habit, and it will be up to rehabilitation programs now to salvage the drug addicted population of Oklahoma. The time is now for those addicted here to rise up and take their lives back and begin anew as sober and recovered individuals.