More than 100,000 people in the United States died of a drug overdose in the last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A local doctor says opioid overdoses continue to impact Oklahoma.
Dr. Jason Beaman with Oklahoma State's Health Sciences Center says Oklahoma has been a leader when it comes to opioid prescriptions in the last decade. While the number of prescriptions has decreased, the crisis has grown.
Dr. Beaman says people struggling with addiction are turning to more dangerous fixes, such as fentanyl, heroin and meth. He believes the addiction problems are contributing to the rise in quick crimes like catalytic converter thefts.
A lot of attention on the opioid crisis has been overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dr. Beaman. He says the pandemic contributed to more overdoses.
"People were isolating, people were suffering from tragedy and looking to feel different and to self-medicate with substances," said Dr. Beaman. "We've had a lot of problems with the drug overdose epidemic because of the pandemic."
Dr. Beaman says the solution is prevention. He says breaking down the stigmas about people battling addiction and getting them the help they need in appropriate facilities is key.
"When I think about addiction, the word I think of most is hope," said Dr. Beaman. "If we can just get people to the right place and to the right resources, we can give them hope they're going to live a full and happy life."
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