Washington and Nowata counties District Attorney Kevin Buchanan is one of nine members of the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse. The nine-member commission was announced on Aug. 23. It was created by Senate Concurrent Resolution 12 in May. Buchanan also is president of the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council. The commission was scheduled to meet five times between August and January. Its goal was to release its findings and suggestions for potential legislation before the 2018 legislative session.

What’s new with the Opioid commission?

The commission has completed its information gathering task and is now formulating its findings and recommendations to report to the Legislature. We will have our last meeting to finalize our report on Thursday (Jan. 11) afternoon.

When will they wrap up study and issue report?

The report will be issued during a conference in Oklahoma City at 2 p.m. Jan. 23.

What have they learned?

The opioid epidemic is a multifaceted problem, and while some solutions seem easy others are difficult to implement. We know that availability of prescription opioids, particularly through illegal diversion and “pill mills” needs to be curtailed. We also realize that legitimate need exists and we cannot interfere with doctors properly treating their patients. One of the most pressing needs revealed is the severe lack of pain management doctors available in Oklahoma as well as addiction treatment facilities.

Will you apply this information to Washington County?

I will incorporate the findings applicable to my office’s work. I perceive a growing trend to incorporate prescription-assisted addiction recovery into treatment options, including settings such as drug court. Traditionally the process is one of no drugs of any kind involved, but there are new products available that seem promising to help with the long-term cravings.

Plans for fighting opioids in the future?

Education seems to be the key in avoiding future opioid addiction. The attitude that lead to this crisis, that is “opioids are good because they relieve pain and can’t hurt you,” needs to change. Patients need to accept opioids are a short-term pain solution, and when treated differently can ruin your life. We need to accept going forward that a pain free life dependent upon opioids is unrealistic and a recipe for misery.