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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 18, 2017

Fighting Iowa’s opioid crisis

Oct 24, 2017

The growing number of Iowans struggling with addiction to opioids is a public health crisis—and a very personal one for the thousands of Iowans who’ve lost a child, parent, spouse, friend or neighbor. Last year, 200 people died of opioid overdoses in Iowa.

Why are opioids so dangerous? They slow your breathing and can bring on heavy sedation that makes it impossible to wake up.

About 90 prescription opioid pills are expected to be sold per Iowan this year. That’s a decline from recent years, but still way too high. Even worse, heroin overdoses and deaths are on the rise. Iowans ages 25 to 49 have been hardest hit.

The epidemic brought legislators to the Statehouse recently to look at ways to curb addiction. I am a member of the bipartisan Opioid Epidemic Evaluation Study Committee. We heard from health care, public safety and public health professionals, insurers and Iowa citizens. They told us about how opioid medications are prescribed, the problems they may cause and treatment options for those who become addicted.

The committee is expected to make recommendations by November 15 on how we can best tackle the problem. In the meantime, Iowa has been awarded a $400,000 grant to upgrade our Prescription Monitoring Program, a health care tool to keep track of controlled substances and prevent abuse. The money is critical to making the program easier for doctors, dentists and nurses to use and helping more Iowans get treatment before it’s too late. Andrew Funk, director of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, says the current prescription monitoring system is like “operating with an Atari, when there are PlayStation 4s available.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please seek help. Call Iowa Prevention, Treatment & Recovery Resources at 1-866-242-4111 or find help close to home with the Iowa Treatment Facility Locator. October 28 is the 14th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. You can prevent abuse by getting rid of unused prescriptions at a safe, convenient drop-off location close to home.

This is a legislative update from State Senator Kevin Kinney, representing Keokuk, Washington and Johnson counties. For bio, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/kinney.

To contact Senator Kinney when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371.

Otherwise, he can be reached at 319-631-4667. E-mail him at kevin.kinney@legis.iowa.gov.

Senator Kinney is ranking member on the Agriculture Committee.

He also serves on the Ethics, Judiciary and Natural Resources committees, as well as the Agriculture & Natural Resources Budget.

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