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The rise of drug overdoses in Iowa

More than 900,000 people have died of an overdose since the U.S. opioid epidemic began in about 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Coronavirus has overshadowed this huge, pre-existing health crisis, but deaths from drug overdose soared during the pandemic to more than 93,000 in 2020. That’s a 30 percent increase from 2019. It’s the biggest jump in overdose deaths in U.S. history.

Today's edition of River to River focuses on the drug crisis today, why it's so much worse and what’s being done about it in Iowa.

This program was originally produced on August 24, 2021.


  • Dr. Alison Lynch, director of the University of Iowa addiction and recovery collaborative
  • Liv Carrow, president of the Quad Cities Harm Reduction Coalition
  • Felicia Carter, supervisor of the linkage to outreach, referral and engagement program at Pathways Behavioral Services in Waterloo
  • Deborah Krauss, program director at Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition for central Iowa
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River