Opioid Outreach - Oklahoma Conference of Churches


In April 2019, the Oklahoma Conference of Churches partnered with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to begin an extensive program of outreach education and awareness on opioids. The focus of this project is to equip churches and faith communities with the necessary information to understand the proper use of opioids, the risks that come with their use, the proper storage of medication, and what to do if you suspect that someone in your family or community is at risk for an overdose. We hope that the outcome of this project will lead to more faith communities have important conversations around the topic of opioids and their use.

For more information about this project, contact Micah James, OCC Liaison to the Opioid Outreach project, mjames@okchurches.org.

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The IMpact

Opioids are the most common class of drug involved in Oklahoma overdose deaths. In 2016, 54 percent of all overdose deaths in our state involved an opioid. That’s 437 Oklahomans! It’s a growing problem and one that is negatively impacting the lives of our families, communities and the entire state. It’s also a problem that we can do something about. We need a prescription for change in Oklahoma. It is up to all of us to be part of the solution and help prevent and treat the issue of opioid addiction.

Between 1999 and 2016, more than 10,000 Oklahomans died from a drug overdose.

  • More than 6,500 of those deaths involved an opioid (including prescription and illicit drugs).

  • In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 5 times higher than in 1999.

  • On average, one Oklahoman dies every day from an opioid overdose.

Who is at Risk?

Anyone who takes opioids is at risk for overdose or death and can become addicted. This includes all opioids, even if prescribed.

  • Repeated use of opioids greatly increases the risk of developing an opioid use disorder.

  • The use of illegal opiate drugs such as heroin and even prescribed opiate medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone can have serious negative health effects.

  • Overdose risk increases when you combine opioid use with:

    • Alcohol

    • Benzodiazepines (also known as “benzos,” including diazepam and alprazolam)

    • Other sedatives

    • Other opioids (prescription or illicit, including heroin)

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Avoid opioids Opioids come with serious risks. According to the CDC, there are safer approaches that are more effective for pain management. Ask your doctor for all available options to manage pain.

Never share Never share or use another person’s prescription opioids – it’s dangerous and illegal. Instead of helping, you may be putting yourself or someone else on a dangerous path.

Safeguard meds Keep opioid medications locked away to prevent theft, child poisoning and other harmful exposures. Monitor your medicines for missing or outdated pills. Don’t keep leftover medicine – dispose of them safely at a local medication drop box, mail-back program or use FDA recommended home disposal.

Carry Naloxone If you or someone you know takes opioids, they may be at risk for overdose. Get the Naloxone kit, keep it close and know the signs of emergency overdose.

Coping skills The benefits of learning and practicing healthy coping skills are many. These skills can help us better manage difficult circumstances, prevent or reduce distress and positively influence how we experience pain.

Talk early, often Young people who learn about drug harms at an early age are better protected from future problems than kids who don’t receive these messages. Have frequent conversations with your children and others – it’s not too early and it’s not too late.