Okmulgee County: 2014 Report on Adolescent Substance Use and Treatment

Okmulgee County is a pretty safe place to live and work but as we all know, no place is immune to the problems of substance use. Alcohol, marijuana and methamphetamine have been leading problems in Oklahoma. Today, the landscape is changing with synthetic drug, prescription drug and even heroin use on the rise.

Substance Use Associated ProblemsWe know the problems caused by adult substance use. Unemployment, involvement in the legal system, and residential instability are all considerably higher for those abusing substances (SAMHSA, 2013).

Drug Court and Community Sentencing programs across the state are effectively treating adults with substance use disorders. We’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s a start. But when did those problems start? In Oklahoma, most adults receiving treatment for substance use disorders report their first use occurred before age 18 (ODMHSAS, 2014).

Nationally, around 7% of children between age 12 and 17 have a diagnosable substance use disorder (SAMHSA, 2013). That doesn’t include those who simply experimented…these are kids with a clinically diagnosable problem. With an estimated 4,500 children between age 12 and 21 in Okmulgee County (U.S. Census Data, 2010), we should expect around 350 cases of adolescent substance use disorder in any year (about 100 just in the City of Okmulgee).

And how many children in Okmulgee County received treatment from a state contracted provider? Statistics from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services show less than 10 children aged 12 to 17 received treatment for a primary substance use disorder in ALL of Okmulgee County in 2013. That’s a tiny fraction of those needing services.

Age of First UseWhy such a large discrepancy? Some may be receiving counseling from private or tribal providers but the fact is, most are not receiving any type of treatment whatsoever.

The first step in solving a problem is admitting there is one. Increasing awareness among parents and school officials is critical. Common warning signs include a loss of interest in normal activities, slipping grades or dramatic changes in attitudes.

Warning signs don’t always mean substance use, but a simple drug test can usually answer some questions. We’re not suggesting that children be tested without cause, but if the warning signs are present, testing is an appropriate response. New testing techniques often make on-site drug screening as simple as using an oral swab. Within minutes, fears can often be confirmed or put to rest.

Once a problem is identified, the right treatment can make all the difference. Recovery in Oklahoma, LLC provides outpatient adolescent treatment services in Okmulgee County. We offer both office and home based services as appropriate. Treatment services are provided at no cost to children with Medicaid and we also have low rates for those without coverage.

If you want to learn more, please contact us today. Together, we can increase awareness and work to address these problems where and when they start.