Atoka Co. tops in Oklahoma in state-funded meth treatment patients

By: Daniel Gotera Email
By: Daniel Gotera Email

ATOKA COUNTY, OK -- More Atoka County residents enter state-funded treatment for meth use than any other county in the state of Oklahoma. Now county officials say it's time to do something about it. .

To put it simply, county officials say they just don't have enough money to treat meth addicts. On Thursday, they started trying to get that money from the state so they can put a stop to the drug abuse.

A room full of doctors, law enforcement, and county officials gathered together to try and stop the growing problem of meth use and abuse in Atoka County.

"I’m more disappointed than I think surprised," mental health professional John Hartzell says.

To treat the problem, the county needs facilities to treat the addicts that experts say the state should be paying for, but instead of paying for treatment facilities in Atoka County, where meth has proven to be the drug of choice among users, the state funding is going to other counties.

"I think anytime we have a population that is significant, the provision of services need to be there for whatever the needs are."

Dr. David Hartzell lives in Denison, but travels to Atoka every week. He is one of the few medical professionals to treat drug abusers in the county and says there is a huge need for a program to help users transition back into society.

Hartzell is trying to form a drug corps treatment program with other local doctors to provide services like those offered by the state.

"I don’t think there has been the cohesiveness between the organizations and that’s one of the things we're trying to do today is to get everyone on the same page."

Law enforcement officials say while treating meth addicts is important, sending the message that there will be consequences for illegal drug use will also help in the long run.

"i understand the prisons are full but at the same time we're going to have to send the message someway to nip this thing now," Atoka County Sheriff Gary McCool says.

State money and backing could do just that, even if it might take awhile.

"I don’t think we should single ourselves out as being the worst, but it’s not just a problem here, it’s a statewide problem."

Atoka County officials say they plan on talking to their state representatives to try and persuade them to push for money for county programs.

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  • by hoodoo Location: a few mile north on Jan 7, 2009 at 11:34 PM
    bottom line. nothing else to do in that craphole county. atoka is the armpit of oklahoma. self-serving indignation means nothing. you know i'm right.
  • by Forgiveness Location: oklahoma on Apr 22, 2008 at 09:33 AM
    To "me" posted on April 13th. It is awesome that you have never tried drugs, that your marriage has lasted 15 years, and you have children. Its great that you consider yourself a "good person." Everyones description of a good person is different. My description of a "good person" is one who is not judgmental, one who is caring, one who forgives, you know one who is just like "Jesus." My husband and I consider ourselves over all "good people" to and we still had a child who tried drugs. Im guessing your children aren't teenagers yet but I can assure you there is no child or family out of the reach of Satan so please be careful what you say and how you react to others, it may come back to haunt you. I pray your kids never try drugs because it is a devestating thing for a family to go through. But please don't let yourself be deceived that they won't!!!
  • by WOW! Location: Atoka on Apr 21, 2008 at 08:59 AM
    Mork, your crappy attitude toward this problem doesn't solve anything!! Have you ever dealt personally with someone trying to overcome this addiction?? Or are you an addict yourself? Maybe of cigarettes, drinking, food or whatever!! Quitting is hard!! You can judge people all you want to but the simple fact is we all mess up!! What these people are guilty of is trying it the 1st time!! They just messed up - simple as that! Everyone deserves a chance, no matter what their addiction is, you are no better than anyone else. Helping them is hope, sitting there complaining about them does nothing. You see when you help someone with drug addiction you in turn help their families, their children, their health or that innocent person they hurt when they are coming down (including themselves). You are so quick to judge but you never know what trial awaits you around the corner. It could be your brother, sister, or child and what will YOU do when they need YOUR help??
  • by me Location: ok on Apr 13, 2008 at 08:54 PM
    I have never been in trouble with the law,hold down a job been married to the father of my children for 15 years,over all a good person. I can barely afford gas in my car to get me to my job and now the state wants me to pay for some drug head to get help. Sorry i'm from the old school PAY YOUR OWN WAY.You chose to use the drugs - pay for the treatment your self.
  • by Edmond Location: crystal on Apr 12, 2008 at 06:15 AM
    On the Atoka meth problem, why is there no drug arrests of the big sellers and makers of the meth ? Why is there nothing being done in the last 18 years ?
  • by Sick of METH-HEADS on Apr 11, 2008 at 09:14 PM
    Diana Crumley: What planet do you live on? Have you ever been around these people when they manufactured or used? Have you witnessed how delusional and out of touch with reality that they are? Have you ever seen the environment their children are raised in? Are they forced to use this crap or do they do so voluntarily? One could go on and on. Ask any medical professional, provided he/she will be honest and they will tell you that, once these people become methamphetamine addicts, from a clinical standpoint they are paranoid schizophrenics. The paranoia of these individuals makes them a threat to themselves and society. We are going to spend this money one way or another. Either lock them and keep them clean, or to the contrary, treat them with this touchy feely approach and let them self destruct on the outside. Then we, the members of society who choose to be responsible and work hard for a living can then bear the cost of their medical bills, SSI that they receive for their psychol
  • by Mork Location: Ork on Apr 11, 2008 at 03:26 PM
    Oh the bleeding hearts.......I don't think the rest of us "sit idle" while the junkies of the world get high. I think we live our lifes productivly while methheads waist away and destroy their minds & bodies. I got about a miniute of sympathy just because they are so pathetic and after that I'm done. Don't blame it on the devil and stop making yourself feel better by calling it "Satin's drug". I got nothing against spirituality but WE as humans are responable and we as idividuals must make a decision - do I do drugs or not? It's a choice people. We either chose to do them or not. Some people need help - others need jail. I also agree with midniteryder, Atoka county is not alone. Theres a lot of folks that are dusting lightbulbs at 03:00 am!!!!!
  • by Mary Anne Bradford Location: Atoka on Apr 11, 2008 at 12:27 PM
    I agree, and instead of sending new offenders to jail, why not make them check in with an officer each week, then put them to work making Atoka County beautiful. There is plenty of work to do besides picking up trash on the side of the road. I have had personal experience dealing with meth addicts and one of the best things is to keep them busy. THey could start cleaning up around all the run down homes that bring our property value down. I do realize it would take man power to do this but it will take more to house them. They also need positive, spiritual counsel because God is the only real cure. They also need to feel valued. THank you.
  • by Suling Location: Sherman on Apr 11, 2008 at 09:36 AM
    Maybe there are just more people getting help in Atoka instead of places with higher crime rates like the Ardmore area where a lot of it is made.
  • by Diana Crumley Location: Madill on Apr 11, 2008 at 09:35 AM
    Okahoma has more non violent drug addicts in jail than any other state...their answer is to build more jails!? The average addict has less than 500 dollars worth of "whatever" on them and we spend 20,000 per year to house them and give free medical care and feed them..if we are going to do this anyway, we need treatment centers not more jails...this is a psychological problem NOT criminal. I'm talking addicts NOT dealers...But as long as its the biggest money maker for law enforcement, of course they are going to want MORE jails!
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