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Iowa Drug Addiction


Iowa drug addiction might be slightly lower than the national average, but it remains a top public health concern across the state. Authorities are unsettled by the increasing rate at which opioid narcotics are being prescribed to patients, sparking concerns of a link between prescription drug abuse and progression to Iowa drug addiction.

What is Street Drug Abuse?

Street drug abuse is the recreational use of any illicit substance. Using any mind-altering or psychoactive substance for the purposes of getting high or stoned is considered drug abuse.

Statistics for Iowa Drug Addiction

While abuse of opioid drugs remains a serious public health problem, data from the El Paso Intelligence Center’s National Seizure System showed that the number of meth lab seizures in Iowa increased 48 percent in the years from 2007 to 2009.

Information released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed that the number of people admitted for treatment into hospitals across Iowa cited stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamine, crystal meth, cocaine powder or crack cocaine, as the primary drug involved.

According to the Iowa Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, the number of meth treatment admissions in 2014 accounted for 14.8 percent of all treatment entries, which is the highest percentage to date involving meth.

Also according to the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, reports from professional medical practitioners show that some people who start taking opioid painkillers for legitimate health problems may become addicted over time, eventually switching to heroin as a cheaper alternative.

Despite the sharp increase in meth abuse in Iowa, the increasing use and abuse of heroin remains a concern. The Drug Enforcement Agency’s released a drug threat assessment in 2015 that specifically targeted heroin and prescription painkillers as a major problem. Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the country.

Commonly Abused Street Drugs

Behind marijuana, the three most commonly abused street drugs in Iowa are:

Cocaine: Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that directly affects the central nervous system. Pharmaceutical-grade cocaine has limited medical uses. However, the cocaine sold on the street is often “cut” to dilute its purity with items such as cornstarch, sugar, quinine or local anesthetics, which can cause an additional level of toxicity.

Cocaine artificially triggers the brain to release a flood of dopamine and serotonin into the system. At the same time, the drug blocks the brain’s ability to re-uptake, or recycle, the hormones circulating in the system. The user interprets the feeling as a short-cut to the brain’s reward pathways.

Cocaine is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, which can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and permanent brain damage. Psychological effects of the toxin include paranoia, delusions, violent behavior and psychosis.

When the effects of the drug wear off, the body’s resources are depleted, leaving the user experiencing feelings of deep depression, excessive fatigue, and increased hunger. Many users will immediately take more of the drug to make the symptoms of the “crash” go away, sparking a “binge-crash” cycle that can last for several days where the user doesn’t sleep.

Tolerance to cocaine develops quickly, so the user may often try to take increasingly larger doses to achieve the same effects, which increases the risk of accidental overdose.

Heroin: Heroin is an opioid analgesic synthesized from the morphine molecule found in the opium poppy. Heroin acts directly on the brain’s opioid receptors, triggering an artificial stimulus to release large amounts of dopamine and serotonin.

The experience is stored into long-term memory as a rapid way to short-cut the brain’s natural reward pathways, which compels the user to seek to repeat the experience.

Heroin causes a feeling of euphoria, accompanied by a feeling of calmness. The body’s response to heroin use is to slow down the body’s functions. The heart rate slows down, mental functions are clouded, and the breathing rate is also reduced. In some cases, breathing can slow down so far as to actually stop, leading to coma and permanent brain damage.

Abusing heroin over a period of time tricks the brain into believing it can no longer produce dopamine or serotonin naturally, unless it has the artificial stimulus of more drugs. The user loses the ability to feel any pleasure, unless they continue to take more drugs. The result is an overwhelming craving to take more heroin just to be able to function with any kind of normality.

Crystal Meth: Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant drug that acts directly on the central nervous system. Crystal meth use causes physical symptoms that include rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat and increased blood pressure, all of which can increase the risk of heart attack, seizure, stroke and permanent brain damage. Psychologically, the drug can trigger violent behavior, delusions, paranoia and psychosis.

Users on crystal meth feel a temporary rush of euphoria, followed by a false feeling of confidence and invincibility. The delusional effects can cause users to become intensely focused on one thing for hours at a time.

When the effects of the drug wear off, the user experiences a devastating crash that is accompanied by overwhelming cravings to take more of the drug. At the same time, the user also experiences psychological symptoms that include profound depression and suicidal thoughts. The deep psychological effect of coming down off crystal meth can compel users to do almost anything to get more of the drug.

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

While the individual signs and symptoms of drug abuse will differ depending on the type of drug being taken, there are some common things to look for:

  • Loss of control over drug user
  • Repeated failed attempts to quit drugs
  • Spending more time buying, using or recovering from drug use
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms when usage stops suddenly
  • Taking more drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms

Treatment Options

Cocaine Treatment: Treating cocaine addiction is complex, as the drug creates such a severe psychological dependence. The most effective treatments for cocaine abuse and addiction include intensive counseling and behavioral therapy, coupled with psychopharmacology to medicate any adverse withdrawal symptoms that arise during the detox process.

Heroin Treatment: There are FDA-approved medications available to help with treating heroin addiction. In an effort to avoid the onset of withdrawal symptoms, users can detox with the aid of replacement medications, such as methadone or Suboxone. Over time the dosage of replacement medication is tapered down so the user becomes free of both drugs over a period of time. Individual counseling and behavioral therapy is also required to address the psychological side of the addictive behavior.

Crystal Meth Treatment: Treating crystal meth addiction is extremely challenging, as the addiction is deeply psychological. The most effective treatments for crystal meth addiction are intensive counseling and cognitive behavioral interventions. Antidepressant medications may be administered to help treat the severe depression that recovering users feel.

Why Seek Professional Help for Iowa Drug Addiction?

There’s no need to struggle with a Iowa drug addiction alone, especially when there is professional help available. It’s possible to regain control of your life with help from a licensed rehab treatment facility that can allow you to break free from the grip of addiction and live a healthy, productive life without drugs over the long term.