Heroin treatment, overdose deaths rising in Iowa

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Some states, including Iowa, are reporting a rise in heroin use as many addicts shift from more costly and harder-to-get prescription opiates to this cheaper alternative. A look at what's happening in Iowa:

THE PROBLEM:

The 2014 "Iowa Drug Control Strategy" report released in February by the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy says that more than 51,000 clients were screened and admitted for substance abuse treatment in fiscal year 2013, the highest number of clients ever admitted. The report uses data from Iowa Department of Public Health.

That number was also the highest-ever percentage of clients admitted for heroin treatment, at 1.2 percent. Five years earlier, in 2009, that figure was 0.5 percent.

Anecdotally, heroin use is on the rise in Iowa, according to the report. Although the overall total is small, the number of heroin overdose deaths rose 700 percent from 2003 to 2012, from 1 death to 8. It reached a high of 10 in 2011.

THE NUMBERS:

Total clients screened/admitted for substance abuse treatment in Iowa:

2009: 44,849

2010: 44,904

2011: 47,974

2012: 50,870

2013: 51,045

Percent of clients admitted for heroin treatment:

2009: 0.5 percent

2010: 0.7 percent

2011: 0.9 percent

2012: 0.9 percent

2013: 1.2 percent

Heroin seized in Iowa:

2011: 1 case, with 112 grams seized

2012: 6 cases, with 101 grams seized

2013: 14 cases, with 290 grams seized

THE RAMIFICATIONS:

The Drug Control Strategy report says Iowa's youths are subject to the fastest-growing form of substance abuse — prescription drug abuse.

"These substances are legal and easily accessible, often diverted from home medicine cabinets," the report says. "Teenagers tend to view these drugs as 'safe,' and easy to conceal, as they don't leave an odor on your breath or clothes. This trend is also migrating into heroin use due to the cost and availability of prescription drugs. Steps need to be taken to prevent prescription drug diversion and reinforce the message to youth that all drugs carry dangerous consequences."

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