Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy report shows growing threat of substance-related deaths

The Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy cites stress, isolation, and depression from the...
The Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy cites stress, isolation, and depression from the pandemic as a likely factor in this increase.(WBTV File)
Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 3:09 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - According to recent federal studies, Iowa ranks 6th lowest in the nation in the rate of total illicit drug use, and 5th lowest in the rate of drug overdose deaths.  However, amid the pandemic and more potent substances and substance combinations, the new annual report says alcohol-related and drug overdose deaths have risen to record levels.

In 2020, alcohol-related deaths in Iowa rose 26% from the previous year. Opioid-related overdose deaths in Iowa increased 35% from 2019. Law enforcement cocaine seizure amounts submitted to the Iowa crime lab are on track to reach their highest level in six years. And the volume and purity of meth smuggled into Iowa remains near all-time highs, with law enforcement seizure amounts submitted to Iowa’s crime lab on pace to exceed 231,000 grams (513 pounds) in 2021.

The Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy cites stress, isolation, and depression from the pandemic as a likely factor in this increase.

“Iowans face a growing threat from psychoactive substances that are increasing in variety and strength, and doing so with quickening speed,” said Dale Woolery, Director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy. “The types of substances available to Iowans is expanding, polysubstance use involving mixtures of lethal drugs is becoming more common, potencies are rising in many products, and for many, these risks are being exacerbated by pandemic stressors.”

A new 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports a continued pandemic effect on substance use and mental health across the U.S., finding 25.9 million past users of alcohol and 10.9 million past year users of other drugs reported they used those substances “a little more or much more” than they did before the beginning of the pandemic.

The Office of Drug Control Policy sets the following goals for Iowa:

  • Reduce deaths related to the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
  • Reduce injuries associated with the use of drugs, including from drug-impaired driving
  • Reduce youth use alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana (THC)
  • Increase access to substance use disorder (SUD) services.
  • Increase employment among those in or completing substance use disorder (SUD) treatment
  • Reduce incarcerations for drug-related offenses, and the disproportionate number of minorities referred to the justice system.

“New ways of connecting those needing help with substance use disorder treatment services has been a focus during the pandemic,” said Woolery.  “Iowans now have additional telehealth and diversion-to-treatment options, with even more being considered in a growing number of communities.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health’s Your LifeIowa program provides information, resources, crisis support, and referrals for problem gambling, substance use, and mental health. Your Life Iowa is free and confidential and can be accessed 24/7 at or 855-581-8111.

To read the full report of the Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy’s findings go to:

Copyright 2021 KCRG. All rights reserved.