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State Receives Nearly $18 Million From Fed To Combat Opioid Deaths

Michael Longmire
Iowa has received nearly $18 million from a federal grant to combat drug-related deaths.

The state Department of Health has received a $17.9 million grant from the federal government to address the increase in the state's psychostimulant and opioid-related deaths.

Iowa has received a federal grant of $17.9 million to address deaths from opioid and psychostimulant use.

The two-year grant is from the federal Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It will help the state expand prevention, recovery and treatment support services across the state.

"We're going to be providing recovery support services. Things that really help reduce the barriers to recovery, like transportation, housing, and in some cases, dental services," Kevin Gabbert, the opioid initiatives director for the state health department, said.

This comes as the state has seen an increase in drug-related deaths. The number of opioid deaths in Iowa increased from 137 in 2018 to 157 in 2019, one of the largest percent increases in the country, after dropping from 207 in 2017, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.

Gabbert said Iowa is currently on track this year to surpass last year's numbers, and 2019 marked the first year that psychostimulant deaths surpassed opioid deaths.

He said one reason for this increase in drug-related deaths is that the potency of these drugs has changed.

"Individuals that are using illicit forms of opioids are not always aware of what they're using. What they think is heroin could in fact be fentanyl or carfentanil, or a combination of meth and opioids," he said.

Gabbert said people also overdose when their use is interrupted by financial issues or incarceration and their tolerance decreases.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter