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Drug Addiction


Iowa’s main problem fighting drug addiction in Iowa has been the number of illegal drug labs the state has within its borders. According to the 2016 Drug Control Strategy Report there has been improvement in the number of meth lab crackdowns, but that is not sufficient to stem the tide of meth addiction. Meth admissions decreased in 2008 but began to rise again in 2012. For 2015, it is at 16 percent of all admissions for treatment in the state of Iowa, after alcohol and marijuana. After meth, the next street drug of choice is tied between heroin and crack cocaine. Crack cocaine has actually decreased to 1.6 percent in 2015, but heroin admissions rose to 2.0 percent to surpass it in the same year, if only slightly. In the past, crack cocaine was always higher in admissions, until the price, quality and availability of cocaine became an issue and many people turned to heroin. Other drugs like synthetics and inhalants are combined with prescription drug abuse, making it hard to distinguish the rate of new designer drugs that might be entering the market at an alarming rate. However, the Division of Narcotics Enforcement has reported that synthetic cathinones, known as bath salts and vanilla sky (that mimic amphetamine-like stimulants), are also on the rise.

Iowa’s Meth Lab Problem Gone, Addiction Still There

In 2005, a law limiting the sale of over-the-counter medications containing pseudoephedrine was put into effect in Iowa. This was the main ingredient used in making meth in home labs. Soon, all medications with this ingredient were put behind the counter and could only be sold to those presenting an ID. Even then, people were limited to two or three boxes per person. This reduced the capabilities of just anyone popping up a homegrown meth lab and seriously curtailed the number of illegal street labs in Iowa, according to the Sioux City Journal. However, it didn’t really impact the number of users in Iowa which continued to climb. Addicts of meth have no choice but to find another source, so they are importing meth into Iowa from Mexico to meet the demand. Even though crystal meth is on Schedule II and is seen as less of a threat than heroin, in Iowa that is not the case.

Health Effects and Treatment for Crystal Meth in Iowa

Crystal meth is a stimulant and after entering the bloodstream can end up staying there for the next 90 days. It’s not an easy drug to kick and will give the user intense cravings. Addicts like the intense rush they get when they use the drug, but it comes at a high cost. It can produce psychotic behavior and mood disorders, even 90 days after being off the drug. It contributes to a condition known as “meth” mouth which is exemplified by accelerated and extensive tooth decay. People can lose their sense of reality and even imagine there are insects crawling under their skin. This is why many have scabs all over their bodies. In order to get off crystal meth, a course of methadone is recommended to taper off the drug while reducing the severity of cravings.

Health Effects and Treatment for Crack/Cocaine in Iowa

While the rate of crack cocaine addiction has dropped to below heroin levels, it is still a main concern in Iowa. It can lead to addiction, though not everyone falls prey to this drug. It is a stimulant that raise heart rate and blood pressure. For that reason, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke. The drug enables risky behaviors, the most common and well-known one is having sex with multiple partners unprotected while on crack cocaine. This can lead to getting HIV or hepatitis. People can also get very depressed when they stop using crack cocaine to the point of being suicidal. More commonly, cocaine is often combined with heroin into a substance called a “speedball.” This can be a fatal combination and is very dangerous. To get off crack/cocaine involves abstaining from using and in many cases an anti-depressant should be prescribed to keep someone from becoming too suicidal. However, there is no medical detox to help lessen withdrawal symptoms other than that.

Health Effects and Treatment for Heroin in Iowa

Heroin addiction is climbing because of its ease of availability and cheap cost. It can produce a euphoric effect, similar to morphine, another opiate. It tends to depress the breathing which can lead to hypoxia, a condition where the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen. This can lead to brain damage and even lead to a coma or death. Heroin is a very tough drug to quit. Withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings and compulsive kicking, aches, pains, vomiting, and severe diarrhea. The person will take another hit just to get relief from the intense withdrawal symptoms. If the person is experiencing an overdose, there is still hope with a treatment of naloxone which can literally bring someone back from the brink of death. Medical detox is recommended for heroin abusers to lessen and control withdrawal symptoms and to monitor them for hypoxia.

Drug Rehab Will Be Necessary

No matter what street drug addiction in Iowa is the cause of the problem, the solution is a course of rehab for the patient. The addict will enter a rehab program after detoxing so that they can learn about the triggers that helped them to turn to drugs in the first place. They will undergo individual and peer counseling in a group setting, cognitive behavioral therapy, and education on relapse prevention. They may need special nutritional and living assistance to get them back on their feet. Psychological counseling may be necessary if the addiction has a root cause of underlying mental or emotional issues.

By the time someone realizes they need help, it may seem like it’s too late. However, like a heroin addict brought back to life with naloxone, there is hope for people experiencing street drug addiction in Iowa. It’s just a matter of getting in touch with the local resources available to get started down the road to recovery. The sooner you get in contact with a local rehab program the faster you will help someone to regain the life they may have thought they lost.