Record Number of Prescription Painkiller Overdose Deaths Reported in Iowa

Painkiller abuse is the biggest emerging substance abuse threat in Iowa, according to a report by the state’s Office of Drug Control Policy. Last year, 62 Iowans died from overdoses of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone, according to the Indianapolis Star. That number represents a 59 percent increase from the previous year, and an almost eight-fold rise from 10 years ago.

“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,” Office of Drug Control Policy Director Steve Lukan said in a news release. “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 noted heroin use is increasing, as people addicted to prescription painkillers switch to the drug. The state reported progress was made against methamphetamine and alcohol abuse.

The state saw a significant increase in marijuana manufacturing and distribution, according to the article. State officials say Iowa may be receiving more shipments of the drug from states where it is legal to grow marijuana for medical reasons.

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