An annual report from the governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy disclosed painkiller medication abuse as the biggest drug threat for Iowans, killing more than sixty last year due to overdoses.
An article on Indystar.com cited the drug report’s key findings, one of them stating that sixty-two Iowans died last year from overdoses of prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone. The figure showed a 59 percent increase from the previous year and an almost eight-fold increase from a decade ago. Some physicians were accused of prescribing large amounts of narcotic painkillers to patients who were abusing the drugs.
The report also identified the rising abuse in heroin by Iowa residents. In 2011, the state recorded 10 heroin overdose deaths, making it the highest in Iowa’s recent history. Additionally, marijuana manufacturing and distribution had significantly increased, with the number of busted marijuana plants reaching 5,813 for this fiscal year.
State officials suspect that one reason for the increase is more marijuana shipments from states such as Colorado, where it’s legal to grow marijuana for medical reasons. Another potential factor is in-state manufacturing by foreigners. In September, investigators nabbed a man after they pulled 550 marijuana plants out of a house in Johnston that featured sophisticated lighting, ventilation and watering systems.
“One of the concerns with the increased frequency of the grows is that it isn’t just Iowans necessarily growing, especially with these large-scale operations,” said Steven Lukan, director of the Office of Drug Control Policy.
Among teenagers in treatment, two-thirds said marijuana was their drug of choice and more than one-fourth of Iowans who underwent drug tests or admitted for treatment last year named marijuana their primary drug.