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Death Of Austin Box Brings Awareness To Dangers Of Prescription Painkillers

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OU Linebacker Austin Box died Thursday after he was found unresponsive. OU Linebacker Austin Box died Thursday after he was found unresponsive.
OxyContin pills OxyContin pills
A bottle of OxyContin pills. A bottle of OxyContin pills.

Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Austin Box's death has brought attention to the problem of prescription pain killer overdoses. Hundreds of people die from these overdoses every year in Oklahoma.

5/20/2011 Related Story: Funeral Arrangements Set For Austin Box

Doctors and police officers alike say it's an epidemic that's out of control. More people die in our state from prescription drugs than illegal drugs like meth, heroin and cocaine.

Like OU football player Austin Box, people who overdose on prescription pain killers often start with a legitimate injury. Pain killers have a legitimate use, but some people take more than advised. Others combine their pain pills with alcohol or other drugs, which can lead to tragic consequences.

Nearly 700 people died because of drugs in Oklahoma last year, 80 percent of those involved prescription pain killers.

"Sometimes, all it takes is one slip up," Dr. Andrew Revelis, Tulsa Pain Consultants, said.

Dr. Revelis teaches other doctors the importance of properly prescribing pain meds.

At Tulsa Pain Consultants, they run urinalysis and check patients against the state database to make sure they're not getting prescriptions from other places. They also use techniques other than pills to treat chronic pain.

He firmly believes, doctors can and should control the supply of these pain killers.

"You need to make sure the people prescribing it know how to prescribe it and now how it's getting out there and make sure it doesn't make it onto the streets," he said.

He said many people believe because the drug made by pharmacy companies and prescribed by doctors, it's safe, but, it can quickly snowball into a problem without the correct oversight.

"A lot of times, people start out with good intentions, prescribe medications for the right reasons, then the problem gets out of control," Dr Revelis said.

OxyContin is called the Hillbilly heroin and doctors want people to understand if it's not taken the right way for the right reasons, just how dangerous, even deadly it can be.

Educating doctors is one step, but police say, another is to stop people from selling their pain meds. Just one bottle of 60, 20-miligram OxyContin pills goes for $1,200 on the street.

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