Editorial

Iowa deals with opioid crisis

Friday, December 16, 2016

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that more Americans died from heroin than gun homicides in 2015. The number of opioid-related deaths was at a record level, exceeding 30,000.

This includes heroin and other opioids which are manufactured and distributed totally as a black market drug, as well as prescription drugs which are sometimes abused.

In Iowa, the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy reported recently that the number of Iowans who died from opioid overdoses dropped for the second straight year in 2015. Medical examiners reported 58 deaths, compared with 97 in 2013.

Steve Lukan, director of the state office, stated that fewer deaths does not prove fewer Iowans are abusing pain medicine and heroin.

More Iowans are seeking treatment for opioid addictions and better trained emergency workers can recognize and respond to overdoses. Also, more doctors are using the state’s prescription drug monitoring system, which allows clinics and pharmacies to check whether patients have received similar prescriptions elsewhere.

Iowa’s standards of practice for prescribing pain medication should be a model for other states.