Preventing Prescription Drug Misuse

During 2010-2019, 265,576 deaths occurred nationwide due to opioid-related overdoses.*  Between 2015-2019, 3,996 Oklahomans died from unintentional poisoning deaths; and, 1,534 of those deaths involved an opioid.  In 2019, the most common prescription opioids associated with overdose deaths included Fentanyl, Oxycodone,  and Hydrocodone**

What are Opioids?

Opioids work on the nervous system in the body or specific receptors in the brain to reduce the intensity of pain. 

Prescription opioids can treat moderate to severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury or health conditions such as cancer. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids to treat chronic, non-cancer pain, such as back pain or osteoarthritis, despite serious risks and the lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness.

Opioids are being overprescribed. And it is not children reaching in medicine cabinets who have made drug poisoning the number one cause of unintentional death in the United States. Adults have been prescribed opioids by doctors and subsequently become addicted or move from pills to heroin.

Perhaps, even more alarming: 70% of people who have abused prescription painkillers reported getting them from friends or relatives. Most people don't know that sharing opioids is a felon.**

  • In 2016, there were over 250,000 visits to the hospital or emergency room related to unintentional opioid-related poisonings.***

  • Four out of five new heroin users started by misusing prescription painkillers.****

Tips on Preventing Prescription Drug Misuse

Research indicates that people who take opioid painkillers quickly can develop a tolerance to and dependence on this class of drugs. 

* Source: 2021 Carter County Oklahoma Epidemiological Profile

** Source: Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Danger Drugs 2020 Oklahoma Drug Threat Assessment

*** Source: CDC's Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes - The United States, 2019

**** Source: The National Safety Council, "Prescription Drug Abuse,"