Iowa’s Drug Czar is backing a call by the Attorney General for a 17-million dollar increase in funding for drug treatment. Iowa Drug Policy Coordinator Marvin Van Haaften says the new state meth law has been successful in dropping the number of illegal meth labs by over 80-percent.
Van Haaften says the law has had other benefits as well. He says at the burn center at the University of Iowa Hospitals they were spending 40-thousand dollars to treat victims of burns from meth labs. He says since the law went into effect in May, they haven’t spent anything to treat burn victims from meth labs. Van Haaften says the problem remains because 80-percent of meth is imported into Iowa. Van Haaften says drug treatment programs haven’t seen any change.
Van Haaften says in Council Bluffs where children in the welfare system were studied in 2003, 49-percent had meth as one of the factors for them being there. He says in 2005 another study still found 49-percent of the children in the welfare system still had the “meth factor.” Van Haaften is a former county sheriff and he says a lack of proper treatment not only hurts meth addicts, but he says it has an impact on law officers.
Van Haaften says, “As sheriff I can tell you there’s nothing more frustrating than hearing your jail staff bet when the person being released is going to be back because of their meth addiction. And it happens. Sometimes within days, sometimes within weeks, I had it once within hours.” Van Haaften says more treatment and taking away the demand for meth is the next step in wiping out the illegal drug in Iowa.