Opioid Abuse More Prevalent Among Female Population in Rural OK Compared to National StatisticsThu, 07 Jun 2018 12:09:59 CDT
The US Department of Agriculture on Wednesday, hosted the Oklahoma Opioid Roundtable in El Reno at the Canadian Valley Career Tech Center to address the rising level of drug-overdose related deaths plaguing rural America. Special guest Anne Hazlett, assistant to the secretary on rural development, attended the meeting to speak with community leaders about the challenges they face in fighting opioid abuse. Stephen Goldman with the Oklahoma Primary Care Association was on hand to offer a state specific perspective on the issue. He spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn about the facts with respect to the crisis in Oklahoma. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“One of the things notable in Oklahoma compared to the National Statistics is that opioid deaths here in Oklahoma are much more female,” Goldman said. “Nationwide, females make up about 33 percent of opioid overdose deaths. Here in Oklahoma, it’s nearly half.”
With that in mind, Goldman insists that any program implemented in Oklahoma should be heavily focused on the female population, relative to a national program. While no specific reasons have linked women in Oklahoma and opioid use, some research suggests it could be influenced by the higher rate of female incarceration, divorce rates and a variety of work and life factors that affect women differently than other parts of the country.
He also cites a federal list of at-risk counties prone to widespread opioid abuse. Oklahoma has two counties identified on that list including Cimarron and Jefferson. Targeting these counties will be essential to any successfully implemented strategy for combating drug abuse in Oklahoma. The tool he sees being most helpful in this situation is the strong network of community health centers spread throughout Oklahoma. Goldman says 83 percent of all residents in Oklahoma live within 30 minutes of a local facility. Furthermore, patients pay on a sliding scale based on income. Continued access to such treatment in rural Oklahoma will be instrumental in successfully overcoming the opioid crisis, he says.
“When you’re looking at any type of addiction, it’s a long-term therapy that the patient must trust. That’s where community health centers can be very special because they are part of the community staffed by local folks,” he said. “Having a trusted environment to get medical and behavioral healthcare is critical.”
Fighting this crisis will be no easy battle, Goldman says adding that it will certainly be a long-term endeavor. He remarked that while treatment is costly, it also pays off. Goldman directs those dealing with issues of opioid addiction, to reach out for assistance by calling the 211 helpline with operators standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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