Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise in OK

12-12-05 - The abuse of prescription painkillers is on the rise and killing more Oklahomans than any other drugs.

The state medical examiner's office says three of the drugs -- methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone -- accounted for nearly half of the state's 526 drug deaths in 2004.

A report by The Oklahoman shows Oklahoma's use of methadone has become the leading contributor to overdose deaths in the state. In the 1990s, the state had fewer than 20 methadone-related deaths a year. That number grew to 135 deaths in 2004, when the drug was responsible for about one-fourth the total number of the state's drug deaths.

According to the U-S Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 180,000 Oklahomans have some chemical addiction or dependency related to prescription pain medications, illegal drugs or alcohol.