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Unintentional Poisoning

From 2007-2013, more than 4,600 Oklahomans died of an unintentional poisoning. Poisonings can be caused by many substances such as prescription drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol, carbon monoxide, chemicals, gases, and even water. Prescription drugs are the most common substances involved in unintentional poisoning deaths in Oklahoma. Nearly four out of five unintentional poisoning deaths involve prescription drugs and nine out of ten prescription drug-related overdose deaths involve prescription painkillers.

Unintentional poisoning mortality rates more than doubled in the United States from 1999-2013 and increased fivefold in Oklahoma during the same period. In 2013, Oklahoma had the sixth highest unintentional poisoning mortality rate in the United States. Unintentional poisoning is the leading cause of injury death for Oklahomans aged 25-64.

Governor Fallin and many state agencies and organizations have declared reduction of prescription drug overdoses a priority in Oklahoma, and a state plan, Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse in Oklahoma, was created. Developing and promoting the adoption of opioid prescribing guidelines for prescribers was one of the recommendations of the state plan. A workgroup of physicians, other medical providers, and related organizations was created to develop the guidelines. The guidelines are intended to help reduce the misuse of prescription opioids while preserving and supporting the vital role of medical providers to properly and appropriately treat pain.

Recommendations for preventing prescription drug poisoning:

  • Never share or sell your prescription drugs.
  • Dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs. To dispose of unused or expired medications at a location near you, visit:
  • Keep all pain medications in a safe place that can only be reached by people who take or give them.
  • Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.
  • Never drink alcohol while taking medication.
  • Put the Poison Control number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and cell phone for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access.

Additional recommendations to protect children:

  • Avoid taking medicine in front of children.
  • Do not call medicine “candy.”
  • Do not let house guests leave drugs where children can find them, for example, in a pillbox, purse, backpack, or coat pocket.
  • When taking medicines, do not put the next dose on the counter or table where children can reach them.
  • Never leave children alone with household products or drugs.
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