The annual report from the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) shows Iowa has made gains in reducing substance abuse among kids. ODCP spokesman, Dale Woolery, says that’s the positive side of their efforts.

Woolery says substance abuse of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs has continued a “steady and consistent” decline over the last decade, with a 17-point drop in youth alcohol use, a 16-point drop in tobacco use and a one percent drop in the use of illicit drugs. The most recent national survey showed Iowa had the lowest use of illicit drugs in the country at 4.1%.

Woolery says it’s not all good news, as prescription drug abuse is a growing problem four young people and adults in the state. He says people seem to think prescription drugs are “a safer high or safer escape or risk, which makes them a little more okay” in people’s minds to use them in ways they weren’t intended to be used. Woolery says letting people know the dangers of misusing prescription drugs is one of their top priorities.

Designer or synthetic drugs are another problem. Woolery says the state law banning synthetic drugs began late this summer, so it’s a little early to tell its impact. Woolery says it’s unclear if people are getting them at retail outlets or where they are getting the synthetic drugs. He says they hope the ban will lead to fewer problems with synthetic drugs.

Woolery says they keep hearing of young Iowans being treated for using the synthetic drugs, and he says they believe once more people learn that it’s illegal to possess or sell those drugs, the situation will improve. A familiar drug still remains a problem in Iowa as Woolery says the number of Iowans entering treatment primarily for meth use increased for the third straight year in 2011, coinciding with similar rebounds in reports of meth labs and meth-related prison admissions.

Woolery says another positive in the fight against drug abuse is the improvement of treatment for those seeking help. Woolery says over the last decade a report monitoring substance abuse treatment found 57% of substance abuse treatment clients remained substance free after six months of treatment. He says that’s a 14-point improvement over treatments one decade earlier.

The complete 2012 Iowa Drug Control Strategy is available on ODCP’s website