Oklahoma Watch will host a free public forum on Monday, April 3, in Tulsa on what can be done to address the continuing epidemic of fatal drug overdoses involving not only prescription painkillers, but also now black-market methamphetamine and heroin.

The “Oklahoma Watch-Out” forum, titled “From Opioids to Meth and Heroin – What Can Be Done?”, will feature Carrie Slatton-Hodges, deputy commissioner for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Michael Brose, CEO of Mental Health Association Oklahoma, and John Scully, director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

The Q&A forum will be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Central Center at Centennial Park, 102 E. 6th St., just east of downtown. Oklahoma Watch Executive Editor David Fritze will moderate the discussion. Those interested in attending are encouraged to register online and come with questions.

Although prescription drug-overdose deaths have eased slightly in the state, the number of deaths remains high and methamphetamine and heroin overdoses are surging. In 2015, there were 862 fatal drug overdoses in Oklahoma, slightly below the record 870 recorded in 2014. In about seven in 10 of the fatalities, pharmaceutical drugs, mainly opiates, were involved, compared with three in 10 for street drugs. Meth, much of it trafficked from Mexico, was a factor in 271 deaths in 2015, representing a 151 percent increase since 2011. Heroin deaths also have soared.

The numbers for 2016 won’t be available  until later this year. But mental-health experts and law-enforcement officials say the problems remain severe.

At the forum, panelists will talk about what policymakers, law enforcement agencies and individuals and families can do to fight the problem, even as state funding remains tight.

About the Panelists

Carrie Slatton-Hodges

As deputy commissioner for the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Carrie Slatton-Hodges oversees statewide treatment services delivered through state-operated and contracted service providers.

She is a licensed professional counselor and has worked in mental health for 25 years in a variety of clinical and administrative positions within the mental health department and the private sector. Slatton-Hodges has developed and implemented treatment programs and strategies to improve the behavioral health of Oklahomans, including the use of behavioral health urgent care centers, comprehensive community addiction recovery centers, a system of ambulatory detoxification services and an outcome-based payment system for community behavioral health centers.

John Scully

John Scully became the director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control  in March 2016.  Before his appointment, Scully was employed by the Oklahoma City Police Department for 32 years, serving his last eight years as a deputy chief.  Scully earned a bachelor’s degree in management of human resources and a master’s in management  from Southern Nazarene University. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy and Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Unit Commander Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and the Police Executive Research Forum in Boston.

Michael Brose

Michael Brose serves as chief empowerment officer of Mental Health Association Oklahoma. Under his leadership, the association has grown from five employees in 1993 to about 170 full- and part-time staff members in the Tulsa area and in central Oklahoma. A partner agency of both the Tulsa Area United Way and the United Way of Central Oklahoma, the association brings community partners together to tackle issues such as improving access to health care, preventing suicide, providing housing and supports for people with mental illness, ending homelessness and decriminalizing people who are impoverished or have a mental illness.

The 2016-2017 Oklahoma Watch-Out series is sponsored by:

Oklahoma Watch hosts “Oklahoma Watch-Out” forums as part of its mission to encourage civil discussion of important public policy issues. The opinions expressed at our forums do not necessarily represent those of Oklahoma Watch or its funders or sponsors.

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