Wednesday, December 14 (Tulsa, OK) – A collaboration of local nonprofits, state and community leaders, law enforcement agencies and substance abuse experts signed a community operating agreement today announcing the beginning of a new strategic, research-based collaborative response to Tulsa’s urgent methamphetamine crisis. The announcement comes after two years of work stemming from the 10-year Tulsa Regional Mental Health Plan to create a new model of treatment that includes more funding, enhanced treatment practices and stronger community partnerships.
“Tulsa continues to prove itself as a resilient community that faces its challenges head on,” said Mayor of Tulsa G.T. Bynum. “This is an urgent community crisis and we must take it seriously. Methamphetamine has surpassed opioids in killing more Tulsans than any other illicit substance, and COVID-19 has worsened addiction in our community. This partnership will serve all of our Tulsa community in leading the fight and stigma against mental health crisis and substance abuse.”
“Methamphetamine has become Oklahoma’s drug of choice. More so than opiates, alcohol or any other substances,” said Commissioner Carrie Slatton-Hodges, ODMHSAS. “It is the drug that is most often cited as the primary substance of individuals who are seeking treatment throughout our statewide treatment system.”
Slatton-Hodges shared that the number of people seeking methamphetamine treatment continues to climb and admissions statewide have increased 95% since 2012. In Tulsa County methamphetamine admissions grew from 13.8% in 2013 to 32.5% in fiscal year 2020 and continues to represent one-third of admissions.
The new treatment model, the Tulsa Methamphetamine Treatment Continuum, addresses Tulsa’s methamphetamine addiction crisis on a bigger scale than ever before. The treatment model includes an increased number of treatment beds at 12&12, longer treatment durations, gender-specific treatment protocols, and community partners providing workforce and sober housing support, among other research-based, national best practice protocols.
“This is an opportunity to meet this issue with action in a meaningful way. We are expanding the capacity to meet this crisis, and it is a crisis,” Bryan Day, executive director, 12&12, said. “It is because of this collaboration that we are able to provide this enhanced treatment.”
A dozen partners are involved in implementing or supporting the treatment continuum, which is made possible by funding from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS), the City of Tulsa, The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation and George Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Tulsa is well-equipped to address this crisis due to our extensive expertise in methamphetamine recovery and our history of coming together to solve mental health challenges. Tulsa can be a national leader in treating methamphetamine through the cutting-edge, extensively collaborative nature of this model,” said Zack Stoycoff, executive director of Healthy Minds Policy Initiative. Funded by The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation to support the 10-year Tulsa Regional Mental Health Plan, Healthy Minds played a facilitation role in developing the Continuum.
Treatment services are housed at 12&12, which will be able to treat additional people through its expanded methamphetamine-dedicated treatment program. The expansion has added four beds dedicated to medically supervised methamphetamine detoxification — the first of its kind in Tulsa — and 28 methamphetamine-dedicated inpatient beds (14 for men and 14 for women), bringing the facility to a total of 110 treatment beds.
Clients can be referred to the program through the ODMHSAS treatment system or enter through criminal justice diversion points serving local police, such as the CrisisCare Center or the Sobering Center.
“This drug is so highly addictive — addictive after its first use. But we have found that the brain can heal. But it takes time and dedicated treatment to reverse all of the damage. We are so honored to share what we’ve learned with this collaboration. Now our work can serve both men and women to heal, and hopefully before they become involve in the criminal justice system,” said Mimi Tarrasch, executive director, Women in Recovery.
Today’s virtual event formalized a community operating agreement tackling methamphetamine treatment and beyond. The signees included Zack Stoycoff, Executive Director, Healthy Minds Policy Initiative; Mayor G.T. Bynum, City of Tulsa; Commissioner Carrie Slatton-Hodges , Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Chief Wendell Franklin, Tulsa Police Department; Dr. Kayse Shrum, President, OSU-CHS; Bryan Day, Executive Director, 12&12; Mimi Tarrasch, Executive Director, Women in Recovery; Marcus Abernathy, Founder and Executive Director, Sangha and Rachel Hutchings, Executive Director, Workforce Tulsa; Bill Major, The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation; Amy Santee, George Kaiser Family Foundation; Terri White, Chief Executive Officer of Mental Health Association Oklahoma; Steve Kunzweiler, Tulsa County District Attorney; and Vic Regalado, Tulsa County Sheriff.
“Meth is a great plague on our city. But when I think of Tulsa, I don’t think of meth, I think of hope. We have brought together a powerful consortium to fight this deadly substance,” said Dr. Jason Beaman, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Chair, Executive Director – Training and Education, OSU-CHS.