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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | May 23, 2018

Iowa second lowest in illicit drug use

By Jon Gilrain, Ledger correspondent | Apr 24, 2018

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors met Monday to receive an update on drug use trends in Iowa, road work in the county and a proposed streamlining of Iowa Workforce Development regions across the state.

Kitty Bogle, a 15-year behavioral health services professional with Southeast Iowa Economic Development Association, met with the board to provide a snapshot view of current drug trends in the state, citing alcohol as the No. 1 abused drug in the state with underage binge drinking exceeding the national average.

According to Bogle’s data, Iowa has the second lowest rate of illicit drug use in the country and the 13th lowest rate of prescription drug use. Youth substance abuse has declined steadily over the past decade. Alcohol and cigarettes have seen the biggest drop among the state’s 12th-graders while marijuana use has remained relatively unchanged during the period.

 

Methamphetamine

Many will remember the scourge of methamphetamine abuse during the previous decade which hit many midwestern states hard. While meth labs are down 90 percent from their peak 12 years ago, Iowa currently ranks 11th for meth use treatment.

“Meth is still alive and well in Iowa, unfortunately. The purity has increased and it’s another drug that we have to deal with in treatment,” Bogle said.

 

Marijuana

Marijuana has maintained a persistent presence in the spectrum of illegal substances in Iowa and across the U.S. over many decades. While usage rates for marijuana have remained flat in recent years, the potency has increased. THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, has become more concentrated in the plant-based substance.

With marijuana becoming legalized in a number of states, new products have appeared including “concentrates” with names like earwax, shatter and budder. These substances have THC levels in excess of 50 percent. Over 90 percent of marijuana found in Iowa comes from California and Colorado.

 

Treatment

Bogle also shared that SEIDA opened a new medication assisted treatment service in Ottumwa providing close access for Jefferson County residents with substance dependence issues such as with opioids to get treatment.

“And so as far as the opioid issue goes, today is the first day of our new MAT unit and we have partnered with United Community Services,” Bogle said. “What happens is you can self-refer to SEIDA or be referred to SEIDA and do an assessment with the counselors. If the counselor feels they need to go to the MAT unit for dosing, they walk them over. The nurses on staff will do an evaluation or assessment and meet with a physician via telephone and decide what their treatment is going to be.”

Patients would need to come to the facility every day for treatment until they are stabilized, which can take some time. Bogle related that Iowa has not been hit as hard by the opioid crisis as some states, but is glad to be taking a proactive approach in advance of any spike in cases.

 

Roadwork

Brent Lamont, assistant to the county engineer, updated the board on current and upcoming roadwork and talked about new hires and the dynamics of age in the department’s workforce being a good mix of young, middle-aged and older workers. Lamont also reported on receipt of a new tanker and sprayer which will allow the department to do base-stabilization for a whole road in one pass.

Supervisor Dee Sandquist reported on a state proposal to streamline the Iowa Workforce Development regions from 15 to a smaller number. The initial proposal was to reduce the number of regions down to two. This received significant pushback. Comments on the matter are being accepted until May 1. The status of the Ottumwa office is unknown until a decision is made.

The board set a public hearing regarding Highway 1 and 227th Street roadway improvements near Fairfield Economic Development Association’s new 61-acre Business & Industrial Park on the south side of Fairfield. The hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. May 7 at the supervisors’ meeting.

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