A new report released by the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy says prescription drug abuse has become a major problem in Iowa.
The 2013 Iowa Drug Control Strategy report cites progress last year in reducing meth labs, the use of synthetic drugs and alcohol offenses, but the report also finds increases in crimes involving heroin and marijuana and the abuse of prescription drugs.
"This report provides further evidence that while Iowa may have one of the nation's lowest rates of drug abuse, including prescription drug abuse, the misuse of medicine is our state's fastest growing form of substance abuse, affecting an increasing number of Iowans," ODCP Director Steve Lukan said in a written statement. "A record number of prescription pain-reliever overdose deaths, an increase in drug-related traffic fatalities and rising substance abuse treatment admissions demonstrate a growing need to promote the safe use of medicine while preventing its abuse."
The report says 62 Iowans died of prescription drug-related overdoses involving controlled prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone in 2011. That is up 59% from 2010.
The report also says that Iowa saw 29 drug-related traffic fatalities in 2011, the highest level in five years.
In 2011, Iowa saw the most heroin related deaths in recent history, with 10.
"I applaud health care providers who have become more educated on pain treatment and voluntarily stepped up their monitoring of prescription medication use to enhance patient care," said Lukan in a written statement. "Prescription drug abuse is a shared concern that threatens the health and safety of Iowans, and it demands additional action by professionals, parents and all of us who are responsible for securing, using and disposing of medicines in our home."
While prescription drug abuse seems to be on the rise, according to the report, findings show that methamphetamine labs in Iowa are on pace to drop from 412 in 2011 to 340 for 2012. That is about 77% below the record of 1,500 in 2004.
The number of Iowans seeking treatment for meth did rise to a five-year high in 2011 with 10.5% seeking treatment.
The report also indicates a drop in synthetic drug sales and use after the legislature passed one of the strongest synthetic drug control laws in the nation.
The report also says that alcohol related motor vehicle fatalities dropped in Iowa from 73 in 2010 to 64 last year. That is the lowest level in at least 18 years.
The ODCP reports that marijuana manufacturing, distribution and use appear to be on the rise in Iowa. Law enforcement has seized 5,813 marijuana plants so far in Fiscal Year 2013 compared to 2,003 in Fiscal Year 2012.
The report also says that 66.2% of Iowa juveniles in treatment named marijuana as their drug of choice.
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