Edmond Sun Letter to The Editor: Opioid crisis response needs leadership

Opioid crisis response needs leadership

To the Editor: The opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma. To adequately respond to this epidemic our state requires new leadership.

I suffer from chronic depression and self-medicated with opiates on and off for a decade. I fed my addiction by buying pills from people who were so desperate for bill money that they were willing to part with portions of their prescriptions. I watched as the state government only worsened situations as they began to apply pressure to doctors, who responded by cutting off patients. This caused street prices to rise and as addicts became more desperate they turned to cheaper alternatives like heroin and methamphetamine.

I’ve been clean now for 14 months with the help of buprenorphine (suboxone), but getting a prescription was a long process and more expensivethan it should’vebeen.

Under Mary Fallin’s tenure our state rose to number one in incarcerationand I am not confident that her prisonindustry allies will do what’s necessary to combat this crisis. Mike Hunter brags about “locking up doctors who recklessly overprescribe” but stops short of saying what he intends to do about the addicts that those doctors left in their wake. If those people turn to heroin in their desperation their next stop will likely be prison or death.

Earlier this summer, I spoke with a drug and alcohol assessor here in Norman. He told me he cannot recommend inpatient rehab to people who need it because there are no beds available in the state. This is not acceptable. So far, Mark Myles is the only candidate I’ve heard speak about prevention and responsibly expanding access to drugs like suboxone.

Oklahoma is receiving $6 million dollars in federal grant money to respond to this epidemic. We simply can’t trust the same officials who allowed this problem to worsen to allocate those funds properly. That’s why I’msupporting the candidacy of Mark Myles for Attorney General.

Will Irwin, Norman