A new report by the non-profit Trust for America’s health found that drug-related deaths rates in Iowa decreased by 15 percent while alcohol-related deaths decreased by 4 percent from 2017 to 2018.
The report found opioid-related deaths decreased by 31 percent, synthetic opioid-related deaths decreased by 13 percent and cocaine-related deaths decreased by 32 percent. However, Iowa saw a 4 percent increase in other psychostimulant-related overdoses for drugs like meth.
John Auerbach, the president of Trust for America’s Health, said that’s why it’s important health officials pay attention to all drugs.
"People refer to this as a whack a mole problem where we pay attention to one area, we may see that problem somewhere else," he said. "So we want to make sure that Iowans build on the successes and not assume that these issues are no longer concerned."
Auerbach said drug abuse issues can also be addressed by treating underlying stressors, which are linked to increased drug abuse.
Additionally, the found the suicide rate increased two percent in Iowa during that same time period, mirroring the national increase.
The report found overall white men over 18 who live in rural areas are at the highest risk. But suicides for kids under 17 increased dramatically between 2008 and 2018.
Auerbach said root causes like traumatic childhood events need to be better addressed.
"Taking some preventive steps by looking at those causes and children and trying to reduce the causes is important," he said. "And among the causes are things like homelessness, violence in the home and others."
Auerbach said increasing school programs that help children deal with stress along with mental health hotlines and services could help lower the rate.