Oklahoma Facts

Prescription drug abuse is Oklahoma’s fastest growing drug problem.

  • There were nearly 3,900 unintentional poisoning deaths in Oklahoma from 2007-2012.
  • Four out of five deaths involved at least one prescription drug.
  • In 2012, Oklahoma had the fifth highest unintentional poisoning death rate in the nation (18.6 deaths per 100,000 population).


The pattern for drug overdose deaths has changed considerably over the past 40 years.

  • Forty years ago, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines were most commonly associated with unintentional poisoning deaths.
  • In the late 1990s, the most common cause of overdose deaths became prescription drugs–particularly prescription painkillers.
  • Prescription painkillers were involved in 9 out of 10 prescription drug-related deaths, with 460 opioid-involved deaths in 2012 alone.
  • The most common prescription drugs involved in overdose deaths are hydrocodone, oxycodone, and alprazolam.
  • More overdose deaths involved hydrocodone than methamphetamines, heroin, and cocaine combined.

According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, Oklahoma led the nation in non-medical use of painkillers, with more than 8% of the population aged 12 and older abusing/misusing painkillers. Oklahoma is also one of the leading states in prescription painkiller sales per capita.


Who’s at Risk?

  • Anyone can be at risk of overdose if prescription drugs are not taken as directed and with a valid prescription.
  • Adults aged 35-54 had the highest death rate of any age group for both prescription and non-prescription-related overdoses.
  • Men are more likely to die of an opioid-related overdose compared to women.