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Rep. Linda Upmeyer says heroin and opioids a “growing epidemic” in Iowa


From Rep. Linda Upmeyer –

While it’s an honor and privilege to serve the people of our district and of Iowa, I’m grateful to be done with spending so much time in Des Moines and being able to spend more time at home in the district.  As I said in my last newsletter, I’m very proud of the work we accomplished this year and I’m confident that it will benefit many Iowans.

Over the last decade, Iowa and countless other states are experiencing an epidemic.  It’s a problem that has crept up slowly over the years with hardly any realization of the impact that it’s having on our communities.  I’m speaking of the widespread abuse of heroin and opioids in our state.

Numerous families have seen the devastating effects of abuse and addiction first hand.  Opioid addiction doesn’t contain itself to an age group, a particular race, or economic status.  What may have started as an injury that led to prescription drugs to manage pain, has turned many to using heroin to get their opioid fix when prescriptions were done.

Since 2005, abuse of opioids has increased dramatically.  The number of people receiving treatment for heroin or opioid abuse has nearly tripled in the last nine years.  In 2005, 608 Iowans received some sort of treatment for opioid abuse, but the most recent data (2014) puts that number at 1,999

Even more consequential is the number of Iowans who have lost their lives at the hands of addiction.  52 Iowans died of an opioid overdose in 2014, compared to just 12 in 2005.

To combat this growing epidemic and get people on the path to recovery, this year the legislature passed Senate File 2218.  This bill, which has already been signed by the Governor, authorizes emergency medical professionals to obtain and administer an opioid antagonist, like Narcan, which can help to prevent an opioid overdose death.  While these drugs don’t prevent or stop an overdose, it blocks the effects of an overdose to save a life.

Additionally, the legislature has targeted specific funding to the Department of Public Health to tackle the issue of opioid abuse by providing treatment options to those that suffer from addiction.

I know that our elected officials at the federal level have also made the issue of combating opioid abuse a top priority.  They continue to look at ways to empower states to fight this epidemic using best practices from across the country.

Our work on this issue is not done and in some ways it’s just beginning.  This is not a partisan issue as both parties look for the best ways to crack down on abuse and help those facing addiction.  I look forward to more conversations on how we can help those in need.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please seek help:

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