Iowa meth use increases as opioid usage drops

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - Although opioid use is going down in Iowa, methamphetamine use is going back up.

Photo: FBI

A new state report on Iowa's Drug Control Strategy shows opioid overdose deaths are slowing down in Iowa.

However, over 10,000 Iowans have been treated for meth use disorders so far this year - an all-time high.

Dale Woolery, with the Governors' Office of Drug Control Policy, keeps track of state drug trends and said the report shows some good news.

"I think there are some encouraging signs, even though I think it's early," Woolery said.

Marijuana is still one of the most commonly used illicit drugs in Iowa. Iowa has the nation's lowest overall rate of illicit drug use at just under 7 percent.

Woolery said opioid overdose deaths in Iowa are down by 30 percent from 2017 for several reasons, including fewer opioid prescriptions and more safeguards when they are prescribed.

He said increased access to naloxone, or Narcan, has helped cut down overdose deaths in the state and that there are more state laws and more federal aid to help Iowa's heroin battle.

"We're making a little headway on something that had become a bigger problem in the form of opioid misuse and the opioid epidemic, but we have a long way to go," he said.

The report says meth seized by Iowa law enforcement is at its highest in six years and that meth-related deaths rose to 96 in 2017 -- the highest in five years.

Woolery said more potent meth is coming in from out of state, which explains a decrease in the number of meth labs in Iowa.

According to Woolery, 19 meth labs were discovered in 2018, compared to more than a thousand meth labs found annually a decade ago.

"We had over 10,000 Iowans last year admitted to substance abuse disorder treatment primarily for meth," Woolery said. "That's more than opioids. It's a little more now than marijuana and second only to alcohol."

Woolery said alcohol remains Iowa's number one substance abuse problem.

View the original story on KCCI's website.