Iowa Ideas
Iowa Ideas

To provide a nonpartisan, statewide learning experience

designed to explore the key questions and big ideas that will shape the future of Iowa.

How can we curb opioid abuse in Iowa?

Conference replay: Possible solutions explored

Oct 30, 2017 at 7:00 am
    A display of expired pre-loaded syringes of Naloxone Hydrochloride and syringes for nasal delivery of the drug is seen at a news conference at the Cedar Rapids Fire Department Central Fire Station on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (File photo: Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

    86 Iowans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016, and 2,274 were admitted to hospitals for treatment, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health

    “We have a medication that can really work wonders for some people, and can kill others,” said Dale Woolery, associate director of the Iowa Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy. “So we have to find a better way, and we have a lot of work to do.”

    Nationwide, the opioid crisis has recently been declared a national emergency by President Donald Trump.

    At Iowa Ideas 2017, September 20-22 in Cedar Rapids, panelists representing both law enforcement and medicine shared perspectives on opioid abuse in Iowa and what can be done to curb the issue. 

    Panelists included: 

    • Dale Woolery, associate director of the Iowa Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy

    • Jennifer Tiffany, associate director of the prescription monitoring program at the Iowa Board of Pharmacy

    • Stephan Arndt, director of the Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation

    • Ryan Carnahan, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa

    • Al Fear, Cedar Rapids Police officer and coordinator of the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative

    • Moderator: Lee Hermiston, public safety reporter for The Gazette

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    Listen to the full replay to hear: 

    • How opioid abuse spread in Iowa and why the issue is so complicated to untangle

    • Initiatives underway in Iowa, and signs of progress

    • Tons of examples of potential solutions being tried in other states, like good Samaritan laws, needle exchanges and quicker prescription monitoring programs

    • How youth in Iowa are being impacted by prescription medication abuse

    Previous reporting: In June 2016 The Gazette took an in-depth look at opioid addiction in Iowa: read the Heroin's Hold series


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