Deaths from heroin rising in Iowa
WASHINGTON, Iowa (GTNS) – While people in possession of marijuana or methamphetamine are common for Washington County law enforcement officers, people in possession of heroin, while not unheard of, are not as common. On Feb. 27, a Washington woman was arrested for heroin possession.
Last year, the Washington County Drug Task Force assisted in an investigation in which two Iowa City men were found guilty of distributing heroin.
Heroin is a highly addictive opiate drug that is typically injected, but can also be smoked or inhaled. About 25 percent of the people who use heroin become physically dependent. According to a report from the Iowa Department of Public Health, the number of treatment admissions rose from 186 in 2005 to 636 in 2014. The number of deaths caused by heroin rose from two in 2005 to 19 in 2014.
The report states that according to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain relievers such as Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, enough for every American to have a bottle of pills. Prescription opioid sales in the U.S. have increased 300 percent since 1999, the report said.
It also said that as people’s tolerance for the substance increases and they may not be able to maintain their original source for the medication, they can turn to other sources and even switch from prescription drugs to cheaper and more risky substances like heroin.
According to a study cited in the report, 75 percent of the people who began opioid abuse in the 21st century indicated their first regular opioid was a prescription drug.
Heroin use in eastern Iowa was spotlighted last year when an unidentified subject overdosed on a new, synthetic heroin called “U-477000.” The drug, which at the time was not illegal, has caused death in other states.
For the last 20 years, the IDPH has funded selected opioid treatment programs to provide medication-assisted treatment to Iowans. For more information about heroin and opioid dependency treatment options in Iowa, visit the IDPH website at http://idph.iowa.gov/mat.