Albert Lang, senior communications manager at Trust For America’s Health, says Iowa’s numbers in all three categories over the past few years are among the lowest in the country.
“We saw very minimal increases in drug deaths, same with suicide,” Lang says. “There was about a 10% increase in alcohol deaths in the state but because the number was kind of low, it was just 11 per 100,000 people, that 10% is just one additional person so it’s not quite enough to ring the alarm bells in Iowa like the rest of the country.”
While it’s not a critical issue now, the report projects that Iowa’s drug, alcohol and suicide death rate could rise by 36% in the next decade. “Synthetic opioids are becoming cheap and more available and they’re far more deadly than the prescription drugs and other kinds of opioids people were using 5 or 6 years ago,” Lang says. “It just takes a very small amount for someone to overdose on them.”
The national figures in the report look bleak. Alcohol, drug and suicide deaths increased at a record pace in 2016 — by 11% — and represent more than 14,000 additional deaths over 2015. For two years in a row, increases in these deaths have been at record highs.
“Iowa, across all deaths, is in the bottom five of states, meaning, they have one of the five best rates when it comes to alcohol, drug and suicide deaths,” Lang says. The study is being released by the non-profit, non-partisan Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust.
See the full report, “Pain in the Nation: The Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Epidemics and the Need for a National Resilience Strategy,” online at: http://www.paininthenation.org.