Oklahoma officials mount attack on prescription drug abuse

Calling prescription drug abuse a “silent epidemic,” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin joined other state officials Thursday in launching a media campaign and multipronged attack on the problem.
by Randy Ellis Modified: December 19, 2013 at 10:21 pm •  Published: December 20, 2013

Calling prescription drug abuse a “silent epidemic,” Gov. Mary Fallin joined other state officials Thursday in launching a media campaign and multipronged attack on the problem.

Craig Box, father of deceased University of Oklahoma football linebacker Austin Box, spoke at the state Capitol event and pleaded with people to do what they can to combat prescription drug abuse.

Austin Box died May 19, 2011, from a prescription drug overdose at the age of 22.

Craig Box said his son suffered two knee injuries and an elbow injury while playing football for OU.

“Probably his most debilitating injury was in August 2010 when he ruptured a disk in his back,” Box said. “As Austin had done many times before, he never complained, he rehabbed, he did everything he could to get back out on the field and play.”

In retrospect, Box said he now believes his son suffered in silence and turned to prescription drugs to cope.

“Drugs are not the answer,” he said. “They simply led him down the road of false comfort and ultimately his death.

“If you know of anyone or you suspect anyone is using, do whatever you can to stop them,” he pleaded.

Terri White, commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, cited statistics that illustrate the enormity of Oklahoma's problem.

“Four-hundred-and-fifty-thousand of our family (members), our friends, our co-workers and colleagues are struggling with the issue of substance abuse,” White said.

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by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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