DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) – Opioid-related deaths in Iowa are down this year compared to this time last year, according…
Opioid-related deaths in Iowa are down this year compared to this time last year, according to preliminary data from the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Number of deaths involving opioids has fallen 35 percent. During the first eight months of this year there were 89 opioid-related deaths compared with 137 during the same period last year.
“It’s very important in my opinion,” says Kevin Gabbert, Iowa Department of Public Health Opioid Initiative Director. He said there are several reasons for the decline, including more treatment options and legislation that allow anyone to use opioid-reverse drug naloxone.
Gabbert is preparing to send $ 1,400 Narcan kit to hospital emergency room across Iowa. He said that stigmatization is not as strong, which can also be a cause of reduced deaths.
“I think we have a highly educated audience now,” said Gabbert.
The education has helped people like Toni VerMeer, who said she could be dead after being abused for almost six years and overdosed five times.
“The first time I overdosed, I died for three minutes,” VerMeer said.
The 23-year-old, from Pella, is now two and a half years sober.
“It’s scary to think I would not stand here right now if I died,” VerMeer says. “I can not imagine what my parents would have gone through. I thank God every day that I am sober and I am not one of those numbers. “
If you or someone you know abuses opioids visit https://yourlifeiowa.org/ for information and resources.