Iowa’s Drug Czar is looking to address the record number of alcohol and drug-related overdose deaths in the next year.
Dale Woolery says on the drug side it’s not a simple solution. “It’s not a one-dimensional issue — it’s at minimum a two-dimensional issue where we have to work on reducing the demand here — but we also need to work on reducing the supply,” he says.
The state broke up eight meth labs in 2020 — the lowest number in more than 20 years. But Woolery says the amount and purity of meth smuggled from Mexico into Iowa remains at or near all-time highs, and the amount of other drugs is also increasing.
“Everything I hear is that for instance, cartels in Mexico are doing more production of synthetic drugs, and so the supply is going up and prices are coming down, and that’s helping to fuel the demand,” according to Woolery.
He says a federal and international effort is needed to slow the drug flow. “I’m encouraged by recent news that U.S. and Mexico officials at high levels are talking about this vary issue and hopefully we will see a plan of action coming soon,” he says. Woolery says the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy that he leads is encouraging everyone to help those who need treatment.
“We need to have eyes on one another and we need to identify needs and act accordingly and get help,” he says. He says if you are struggling with drug addiction, there is help you can get, and it is confidential. “There is no wrong door for getting help and any Iowan who needs help — or if you have a loved one or anyone else you know who needs help and you are not quite sure where to go for it –there is a statewide helpline 24/7 in the Iowa Department of Public Health’s YourLifeIowa.org,” Woolery says.
He says the pandemic kept many people away from the help they needed in isolation, and he hopes people will now seek it out to get the treatment they need.