Tahlequah, OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery to address opioid epidemic

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/19/2019 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – According to an Oklahoma State University press release, Oklahoma is the epicenter of the nation’s opioid epidemic. In Cherokee County alone, 30 people died of unintentional prescription opioid overdose from 2013-17, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The opioid prescription rate for Cherokee County was 21 percent higher than the state rate.

An estimated 1,900 Oklahomans have died from opioid abuse. The estimated cost to address the epidemic in Oklahoma is $17 billion dollars. Rural and tribal communities have been hardest hit.

The Cherokee Nation, City of Tahlequah, Tahlequah police, Cherokee County sheriff, addiction experts and other community partners are working with the OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery to address an opioid epidemic response to the overuse of opioid painkillers.

Tahlequah is one of four Oklahoma communities taking part in the seven-day event, to run from July 22-28. The response is part of a $1.4 million dollar grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Oklahoma State Department of Health, and is designed to combat the misuse of opioid painkillers in Oklahoma.

“The purpose of the opioid epidemic response is to provide an educational community event that brings together a broad spectrum of community members, health care providers, addiction experts and civic and business leaders to learn about this crisis and how to fight it,” Julie Croff, Ph.D. and executive director of OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery, said.

The highlight is expected to be an interactive town hall meeting on July 26 featuring panelists Terri White, Oklahoma State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services commissioner; Chris Wilson, of the Eastern District US Attorney’s office; Chief Nate King, of the Tahlequah Police Department; and Joe Wiseman with Celebrate Recovery.

Community resource booths and workshops will be open daily to help educate Oklahomans about the opioid epidemic, alternative pain treatments, red flags of addiction, the co-dependency of opioid use, tobacco and mental illness’ effect on opioid use and parenting children of addiction.

The response will be open the Cherokee Community Building located at 908 S. College Ave. For a schedule or to register for the free community event, visit health.okstate.edu/cwr.

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