Preventing Prescription Drug Misuse

Between 2007 and 2017, 9,965 Oklahomans died from unintentional poisoning deaths involving prescription drugs; and, 4,653 of those deaths involved an opioid.*

What are Opioids?

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

Prescription opioids can be used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury, or for health conditions such as cancer. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids for the treatment of 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 is 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 2010, more than 400,000 emergency room visits were made related to prescription painkillers.

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

Tips on Preventing Prescription Drug Misuse

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

* Source: Oklahoma State Department of Health, Injury Prevention Service, Fatal Unintentional Poisoning Surveillance System (Abstracted from Medical Examiner Reports​

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