Health | Opinion

Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation fights opioid abuse in Oklahoma

Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker. Photo from Cherokee Nation / Facebook

Chief Bill John Baker explains how the Cherokee Nation is tackling the drug crisis in Indian Country:
Prescription drug abuse is rampant in Oklahoma, with abusers being identified at younger and younger ages. Oklahoma ranks in the top 10 nationally of overdoses and deaths related to opioid abuse. Additionally, Indian Health Service reports that opioid abuse-related deaths among tribal populations is almost double the general population.

Opioid painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone account for about 75 percent of prescription drug overdose deaths. We have a crisis in Oklahoma and throughout Indian Country, and we must raise awareness of the issue and create sustainable prevention plans for families, schools and community organizations. It’s important our Cherokee Nation youth know the importance of not only physical health, but mental health. That’s why we are striving to ensure Cherokee Nation citizens are healthy and safe.

Our tribe’s behavioral health department has prevention coordinators who are working to secure drop bags at area pharmacies with important information on safe use, safe storage and safe disposal of prescription drugs. The safe drop off bags and locations get no longer needed drugs out of medicine cabinets and homes. On one recent Saturday afternoon in Wagoner, our team collected more than 3,000 pills for disposal and distributed lockboxes for families to keep dangerous and addictive painkillers away from children.

Get the Story:
Chief Bill John Baker: Fighting opioid surge in northeast Oklahoma (The Tulsa World 6/12)

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