Department wants awareness on opioids
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — What are opioids? On the website for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and many others.
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health Medical Director for Behavioral Health Services Dr. Gary Puls has a simpler answer for what opioids are.
“There’s naturally occurring opiates and there is synthetic ones, which is created by us, well not us, but by people,” he said. “They are pain relievers.”
Opioids have been making headlines across the U.S. as an epidemic and are also affecting the MCN jurisdiction.
BHS Treatment Coordinator Laura Savage said there were 3,553 unintentional overdosed deaths in Oklahoma in 2011-2015.
“Sixty percent of an unintentional overdosed deaths involved an opioid,” she said.
She also said men were slightly more than likely to die by overdose than women.
“The highest age population to overdose was from 35-64,” Savage said.
Savage said the statistics she spoke of are primarily in the MCN jurisdiction and the southern part of Oklahoma.
Puls said a reason has not been found for why this area has been hit hard with the opioid epidemic.
Savage said MCNDH has an opioid task force and they want to meet with the MCN Lighthorse Tribal Police Department to train them with kits to help if someone has overdosed on opioids.
“Our (Oklahoma) State Troopers do that,” she said. “We want to make sure that is available for our Lighthorse.”
Savage said BHS has five sites located at the health clinics throughout MCN that people can contact for assistance with opioid addiction.
She said any site can be reached by calling the Okmulgee site at: 918-758-1910.