The folks who work in centers that offer substance abuse treatment say the reduction in the number of illegal meth labs discovered in Iowa is not translating into a reduction in the number of meth addicts here.
A new state law makes it more difficult for meth-makers to obtain the key ingredient for the illegal drug. But Julie Shepard, executive director of the Iowa Substance Abuse Program Directors’ Association, says there’s still the same amount of meth available in Iowa — it’s just coming from Mexico instead of from someone’s garage.
“I certainly don’t want to have people become relaxed and (think) the problem is going away because it’s certainly not,” she says. “We have a program in Mason City (that) treated eight meth clients a decade ago and today is treating 400 and that number just continues to go up.”
There’s been a 76 percent reduction in the number of meth labs found in the state because of a new law that took effect in May, but Shepard says that is just a small dent in the meth problem. Shepard says a friend whose son was addicted to meth got the drug from dealers who got their supply from Mexico.
“It wasn’t a lab, ever,” she says.
Shepard is urging legislators to spend more money on substance abuse treatment programs in the state’s prisons.
“Our continual message to them is that treatment works,” she says.
But Shepard says many treatment programs have waiting lists and often run out of funding halfway through the year.