drug abuse

Medical marijuana appears to have put a dent in the opioid abuse epidemic, according to two studies published Monday.

The research suggests that some people turn to marijuana as a way to treat their pain, and by so doing, avoid more dangerous addictive drugs. The findings are the latest to lend support to the idea that some people are willing to substitute marijuana for opioids and other prescription drugs.

President Trump outlined a wide-ranging plan to combat the opioid epidemic on Monday, including an ad campaign to discourage drug use, expand addiction treatment and pursue a get-tough approach to law enforcement.

"Whether you are a dealer or doctor or trafficker or a manufacturer, if you break the law and illegally peddle these deadly poisons, we will find you, we will arrest you, and we will hold you accountable," Trump told an audience in Manchester, N.H.

"Failure is not an option," he added. "Addiction is not our future."

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests drug overdose deaths declined in some states — but not in Oklahoma.

Drug overdose deaths dropped in 14 states, making health officials hopeful that policies aimed at curbing the death toll may be working. But preliminary numbers from CDC show drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma rose by 12 percent, to 844 people. That’s higher than in previous years, but not by much.

There's more bad news about the nation's devastating opioid epidemic.

In just one year, overdoses from opioids jumped by about 30 percent, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A few years ago, Renea Molden's doctors told her they wanted to take her off her opioid pills.

"I was mad, I'll be honest. I was mad. I was frustrated," she says.

Molden, of Kansas City, Mo., is 40 and struggles with chronic pain because of fibromyalgia, bulging disks and degenerative disk disease. Her doctors told her they worried about the possibility of her taking hydrocodone for the rest of her life. She told them those three pills she took every day seemed to be the only way she could make it through work, going shopping or even fixing dinner.

Opioids are on the White House agenda Thursday — President Trump plans to talk with members of his administration about the crisis. Meanwhile, all around the United States, state legislators, treatment providers, families and many others will be listening.

One of the most common reasons patients head to an emergency room is pain. In response, doctors may try something simple at first, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. And, at least up until recently, if that isn't effective, the second line of attack has been the big guns.

"Percocet or Vicodin," says Dr. Peter Bakes, an emergency medicine specialist at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colo. "Medications that certainly have contributed to the rising opioid epidemic."

Oklahoma Takes Opioid Makers to Court

Feb 19, 2018
Claire Donnelly / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Oklahoma will be the first state to go to trial against opioid manufacturers next year.

The state's Attorney General Mike Hunter spoke to The Takeaway on Monday about the state’s lawsuit. He says more than 1,000 Oklahomans die each year from overdoses and the majority of those deaths are attributed to opioids.

Hunter says some drug companies have used propaganda for decades to convince prescribers that opioids were not addictive.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

Drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma increased 91 percent over the last decade and a half, prompting the state to form a task force charged with a daunting goal: Brainstorm a plan to guide the state out of an opioid epidemic that kills three Oklahomans nearly every day.

The Commission on Opioid Abuse released its final report in January.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about lawmakers suspending the special session until a bargain can be made on how to fix the state budget, the Department of Corrections gets blow back from a state lawmaker as it works to reduce overcrowding in state prisons and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spends $25,000 on a sound proof phone booth for his office.

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