The Norman Transcript

Headlines

April 14, 2014

Doctor dicusses state’s addiction

NORMAN — The latest statistics suggest that 5 percent of Oklahomans over the age of 11 will abuse prescription painkillers this year. Several hundred of them will wind up dying of accidental overdoses. A few lucky ones will wind up in Hal Vorse’s addiction clinic.

Vorse, a former pediatrician, has dedicated the second half of his medical career to helping people wean themselves off highly addictive opiate painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone so they can go back to leading productive lives.

Vorse, 71, also serves as medical director of several residential treatment centers for drug and alcohol abusers in central Oklahoma, and presents addiction medicine seminars for students at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

In two recent interviews, Vorse urged state officials and medical professionals to take more aggressive action to deal with the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. The interviews have been edited and condensed.

Q: What do the statistics tell us about prescription drug abuse?

A: It has become one of the leading causes of death in people between 18 and 55. More people are dying from overdose deaths in Oklahoma than are being killed in motor vehicle accidents. The most recent data, from 2012, is over 800 overdose deaths in the state. About 80 percent of those are due to prescription drugs.

Q: With all of the attention this issue has gotten, why does the death toll keep rising?

A: I’m not sure the message has gotten out to all the doctors. I don’t know if they haven’t gotten the message or they don’t believe the message. But it’s amazing to me how many of them insist on writing for hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Q: Who are the victims?

A: It’s mostly people who are addicted. People who are predisposed to becoming addicted have access to the drugs through legitimate prescriptions. They will obtain these drugs initially legally, but eventually they will get multiple prescriptions from other doctors or they will start buying the drugs on the street.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Water Reclamation Wastewater upgrade under way

    Norman’s $63 million water reclamation facility upgrade is under way. Once known as a sewer plant, the facility’s moniker reflects the current trend in water reuse and treatment that’s crossing the United States....

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Okla. City museum shows pigeons in positive light

    OKLAHOMA CITY — It wasn’t long after Lorrie Monteiro started her new gig as curator of the American Pigeon Museum that she started to wonder, “What have I done?” Monteiro had experience working at museums but knew almost nothing about the ...

    August 1, 2014

  • Bicycle Racks Five more bike racks installed downtown

    Public art was installed Thursday along east Main Street in historic downtown Norman. Five colorful art pieces aren’t just for looks. The musical notes, dream catcher, fork and spoon, scissortail flycatcher and a bent arrow also are bike ...

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meet the Sooners on Saturday

    Meet the Sooners Day will be Saturday at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The annual, free event kicks off preseason practice and gives University of Oklahoma fans an opportunity to interact with their favorite players and ...

    August 1, 2014

  • OKC man charged with rape

    After being brutally raped and kidnapped for four days, a woman escaped and called 911 last week, which led to charges against an Oklahoma City man. Zohaib Sahibzada Dastgir, 28, was charged with three counts of first-degree rape, two ...

    August 1, 2014

  • One killed when shipping container falls onto vehicle

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City police say one person was killed when a shipping container was knocked from an Oklahoma National Guard vehicle and landed on a pickup truck....

    August 1, 2014

  • Target taps outsider as CEO for shakeup

    NEW YORK — Target is bringing in an outsider as its CEO for the first time as the retailer fights to redefine itself to American shoppers....

    August 1, 2014

  • Parks officials set to fog for mosquitoes in Norman

    Norman parks and recreation officials will fog for mosquitoes Saturday night in northeast Norman....

    August 1, 2014

  • New natural gas plant coming to south central area

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A new plant projected to process 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day is coming to the Grady/Stephens county area....

    August 1, 2014

  • Motorists should watch for pedestrians

    With another school year approaching, the Norman Police Department wants motorists to be mindful of the increase in pedestrian and vehicle traffic. During the month of August, the Norman Police Department will concentrate resources in the ...

    August 1, 2014