Oklahoma at the Front Lines of Opioid Abuse

Oklahoma at the Front Lines of Opioid Abuse
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The opioid epidemic continues to claim thousands of lives in the United States.

And Oklahoma is on the front line.

A recent report released by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration” says Oklahoma has the highest percentage of people who use prescription pain relievers for non medical reasons.

State officials like the attorney general are working on ways to combat this issue.

Attorney General Mike Hunter says that drug manufacturers are misleading doctors about the actual levels of addiction of the drugs they’re prescribing, leading to an over supply of drugs to Oklahomans.

“Recovery is my life, everything i do is around that”

We’ll call her Megan, she is sharing her story, but anonymously.

“I had a neck injury from a car wreck in December of 09. And I was prescribed pain medicine and it just snowballed horribly out of control after that”

She was prescribed Hydrocodone, and was hooked. Her doctor didn’t refill her prescription, but that doesn’t keep people from abusing.

“Anything opiate based, eventually it went on to other drugs because i couldn’t get those anymore. So I moved on to something else”

Her addiction escalated to using meth.

In October of 2015 she went to jail for burglary, forcing days of sobriety.

“I just walked out of there knowing I wanted something different. And I knew there had to be help out there”

And there was help out there, she met her therapist, Mitzy Kantor

“We have to re-train our brain. We have to take out all those negative things that was in there. All of those negative things that was in there, all of those negative thoughts, all of those negative behaviors all of those negative behaviors and we have to fill them up with something, we can’t walk around a big empty void or we’re going to use again. So we have to try to train our brain to do positive things in society, give back. Be better mothers or fathers or become employable” says Kantor.

Kantor isn’t just a therapist she’s a former addict now helping others through a program call Drug Court.

A program in jeopardy due to state budget cuts. Currently there’s a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, if Oklahoma wins, the damages could help fund the program. If not, the program is still on the chopping block.

For former addicts like Megan, the program gave her a future.

“Recovery is very sweet and it’s very precious. Life is better now and I’m a better person now than i ever was before. The importance of getting help is more then i can put into words.” says Megan.

As for the case against opioid manufacturers, last week, a judge denied the company’s requests to dismiss the lawsuit.

But Attorney General Mike Hunter says it could take several years before we see the money from that case.

And as for Megan, she continues her life of sobriety