Hooked on Heroin: An Oklahoma and American epidemic
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
Heroin abuse is infecting America, and it is not just an inner city problem anymore. Any person in any community could be hooked on heroin, and Oklahoma is not immune to this epidemic. Law enforcement and addiction experts say the odds are daunting, and the rise in heroin and other opioid addiction has cost thousands of Oklahoman lives.
Truly Nash remembers living a life of addiction, wondering how her life turned into such a mess. Nash's addiction began with prescription drugs, but eventually she went from digging through medicine cabinets to walking the streets looking for heroin.
"I never thought I would be 24 years old, and been on heroin for the last six years of my life. I never thought that I would be injecting drugs into my arm," said Nash.
Her addiction was all consuming, and Nash says she used pills and heroin even during her pregnancy. She was surprised and thankful her son was born healthy.
"I told myself -- let me stop shooting up drugs. You tell yourself little things like that. Like, I am going to stop shooting drugs and I will just go smoke it," said Nash about her drug use while pregnant.
This woman's story is not one of a kind. Oklahoma has a serious prescription drug problem. The rates of addiction have forced changes in the way doctors prescribe opioids, and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has launched several educational programs like Take as Prescribed. The goal is to help stop addiction before it starts and to make getting help more easily accessible. It is working, but curbing illegal access to prescription medication has resulted in an increase in heroin use.
"Now that it is tougher to get the prescriptions the Mexican organizations are bringing larger quantities of heroin into the United States," says Mark Woodward, OBN spokesperson.
OBN says the amount of heroin coming through the United States has pushed prices down. The drug is frighteningly accessible, and those looking to feed an addiction are not afraid to go looking for it.
"Even people who are doctors, lawyers and professionals are switching to the streets to get their addiction fed," says Woodward.
Live- in recovery centers like Jordan's Crossing have helped people like Nash get ahold of their addiction. The problem facing addicts looking for help is that these types of facilities are often full. Nash says she waited in jail until they type of facility she needed became available. Oklahoma's billion dollar budget shortfall has caused major cuts to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, so that means it is unlikely more space will be opening-up soon.
Health professionals say anyone looking for addiction recovery services can call 211. Specialists will be able to help in finding a program that works for you even if space is limited.
Fox 25 along with 160-plus sister stations are hosting a national town hall called Heroin Epidemic. The special will focus on the growing heroin problem in the United States. You can watch and participate on Wednesday from 6pm to 7pm. We will be broadcasting live on OKCFOX.COM.