by Gus Blackwell, Rep.-61

Speaker Pro-Tempore


I hope everyone had a great 4th of July celebration. It’s important to remember the roots and history of our country. It is necessary to maintain proper direction in these turbulent times.

Recently, I was privileged to receive an award from the Oklahoma Substance Abuse Services Alliance. I was singled out for my role in carrying Drug Counseling legislation, during the 2008 Legislative Session. I’m honored to have received their “Legislator of the Year” Award, which will be presented to me in Beaver this week.

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Oklahoma’s drug counseling programs and accessibility to them was a major focus of my work this session. The new availability of drug counseling will better and more efficiently serve the health and safety needs of Oklahoma’s citizens. My legislation allowed licensed people with specialized master’s degrees in substance abuse counseling to be covered by insurance providers, when an individual seeks treatment. I am proud to be a part of that effort.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the total estimated cost of alcohol and drug abuse in the U.S. is $245.7 billion. In 2005, there were 522 drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma.

This data is just part of a statistical iceberg indicating substance abuse in Oklahoma has a significant impact on health care costs and economic costs overall. Oklahoma is a predominantly rural state, which means there is a lack of resources for many Oklahomans. This is especially true in northwest Oklahoma. This is why my legislation was so important.

By increasing access to substance-abuse treatment, health care costs could go down as health and wellness improve. This win-win solution saves money and, more importantly, saves lives.”

This issue will continue to be one of special interest and effort for me. If you have other issues or problems, which need to be addressed, please get in touch with me to discuss your ideas.

I will be at home in Goodwell during the summer where you can contact me. You can still leave a message at my office at the Capitol also if you wish at 405-557-7384.

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