The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics visited Ardmore Thursday to discuss current drug threats in the community and how these threats are being addressed.
The threats were evaluated by analyzing data from the OBN’s 2018 Oklahoma Drug Threat Assessment. Data on fatal overdose rates, opioid prescribing rates, heroin treatment admissions and drug arrests all contributed to recognizing three main problem areas.
These include an ever-growing number of methamphetamine users, opioid addicts turning to heroin amid stricter regulations and a re-emerging market for cocaine.
Meth, however, remains one of the most predominant threats in Oklahoma, said OBN Director John Scully. “More people died from methamphetamine overdoses than all the other drugs combined.”
When Oklahoma began enacting legislation to control one of the main ingredients used to cook meth, pseudophedrine, in 2004 meth labs dropped by 95%, said OBN public information officer Mark Woodward.
Now, around 95% of meth in Oklahoma is coming from Mexico,  Woodward said — making it cheaper and more potent.
“Does Oklahoma have a meth problem? Our meth problem has never been worse,” Woodward said. “It’s killing more people now than it did 10 to 15 years ago because of how powerful the meth is.”
In 2017, Oklahoma reported 330 methamphetamine-related deaths, representing a 71.9% increase since 2014.
But meth is not the only drug the state should be concerned about. Another threat is on the rise as well, Scully said.
 “Just like with meth, where we had an unintended consequence, what we don’t want is for people who are addicted to opioid pills, now that they can’t get them, we don’t want them to turn to heroin,” Scully said.
OBN Chief Craig Williams said data has shown a correlation between recent legislation cracking down on overprescription opioids and an increase in heroin use — “the original opium”.
According to the 2018 Drug Threat Assessment, the number of admissions for opioids as individuals’ primary drug of choice in Oklahoma decreased by 4.4% in 2017. But the number of admissions for heroin as individuals’ primary drug of choice increased by 19.7% that same year.
 “As pharmaceuticals become more difficult to source, people turn towards the street,” Williams said.
Similar to the meth market, cheap heroin is becoming increasingly available throughout Oklahoma as it inflows from Mexico, Williams said. Fentanyl is often mixed in with the heroin available on the streets and in 2017, fentanyl contributed to 56 fatal overdoses in Oklahoma.
Overall, there were 59 heroin-related fatal overdoses in the state, which is a 62.5% increase compared to 2016.
 Also resurging as a threat in Oklahoma is a drug law enforcement hasn’t seen much of for years.
“Cocaine is often one that surprises people, but it is really back in Oklahoma in some of the highest rates we’ve seen since the 1980s, Woodward said.
While arrests for possession of cocaine decreased by 16.4% in 2017, arrests for the sale and manufacturing of cocaine increased by 45.8%, according to the 2018 assessment.
The good news, however, is that the OBN is working to combat these threats, Woodward said.
In the past few years, developing and enacting legislation has been a key part of targeting certain drug threats. Williams said Oklahoma’s Prescription Drug Monitoring programs set the state apart nationally in the opioid crisis.
Most states monitor drug prescriptions in a batch towards the end of the month, but since 2012, Oklahoma has required that pharmacies report opiate medications prescribed every five minutes, Williams said.
This helps physicians keep track of patients who may have received a prescription for an opiate from another doctor or dentist already. “We want them (physicians) to practice appropriate medicine, we just provide tools that help them make better assessments,” Williams said.
The OBN has also kickstarted programs like the “Safe Trips for Scripts” program where individuals can drop off prescriptions they are no longer using in designated bins located at police departments.
Since 2011, the OBN has collected nearly 163,000 pounds of drugs from these bins, Mark Woodward said.
Other programs like the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), which has been in place in Oklahoma for about a year, help the OBN mobilize resources.
OBN research director Angie Woodrow said the ODMAP system relies on public health, fire, emergency medical service and law enforcement agencies to report overdoses by entering real-time information into a database that maps the incidents.
If there is a spike in overdoses concentrated in an area and within a short period of time, the OBN will receive an alert and can send out resources to address threats to that area, Woodrow said.
“The only way we would’ve known about that otherwise is through the grapevine,” Woodrow said.
 Scully said the OBN applied for two grants in December that would allow them to work with 10 other agencies to create two task forces addressing meth and heroin use. And, he said, the OBN plans to continue addressing the growing drug threats within the state in as many ways as possible.