The Iowa Department of Public Health plans to give out $3 million in federal funding to help provide more treatment for those with addictions to prescription drugs and heroin.
The department’s Monica Wilke Brown says those who’re addicted will be treated with a couple of types of medication. “There’s been a limited level of treatment options for people who wanted to use medications. The research has gotten very well developed over the last for some people in some cases,” Brown says.
She says the medications that treat the addiction work in a couple of ways. “Some work in the brain to reduce the cravings that people have for the drug,” Brown explains. “And others make it less pleasurable for people to use the drugs.”
The grant money will go to substance abuse providers who have medical professionals on their staff who can monitor and use of the medication to help the patients. Brown says that’s important because of the differences in how people react to treatment. “One person might have success with methadone and another person might have success with maltrexone. Just like individuals are different, they respond differently to different medications,” Brown says.
Brown says the number of people admitted for the treatment for addiction for the pain-killing drugs known as opioids has gone up rapidly. “It’s increased 152 percent just from 2007 to 2012. And one of the things that is of a particular concern with opioid drugs — whether they are prescription drugs or heroin — the risk of overdose is great, and people can die from overdose,” Brown says. Thirty-three Iowans died from opioid overdose deaths last year.
“As people get more and more pain medications — usually legitimately after a surgery or an injury of some sort — then some people end up addicted and with a disorder from using that opioid. We’ve seen that increase here in Iowa, just as we have seen across the country,” according to Brown. Nineteen people died in Iowa last year from heroin overdoses.
She says there will be treatment services available across the state. You can Google “Iowa Drug Treatment” or look on the DrugFreeIowa.org website to find a treatment provider. “People can also reach out to their physician and ask for a referral for specialized services, because substance abuse treatment is really medical care for a chronic condition,” Brown says. One million dollars of the money from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will be distributed each year for a three-year period.