National heroin epidemic spreads through Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

National heroin epidemic spreads through Iowa

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The recent rise in heroin abuse across the county is injecting eastern Iowa, and local, state, and federal leaders are trying to figure out why.

In less than four years in Johnson County 25 people have died due to heroin, ten of those this year, and it's only July.

"Well, when you look at it, yes it's alarming," said Doug Beardsley, Johnson County Public Health Director. "The problem's not going to be solved just by agencies working on it themselves. Matter of fact, we were discussing what can we do."

The Johnson County Medial Examiner's Office released data that shows Johnson County's heroin-related deaths by incident are nearly 10 times more than other counties, including some metro areas, according to data from 2010 until now.

Des Moines and Linn County had two heroin related deaths, Washington County one, while Johnson County had twenty.

In 2010 there were no heroin-related deaths in Johnson County. There were three in 2011, nine in 2012, and three in 2013

Most of those deaths during the 2010-2014 time frame are people between the ages of 21 and 30.

Local, state and federal leaders are still trying to figure out why this trend is not only injecting Johnson County, but Iowa as a whole.

"The public has a role in this, but they need to be aware of it," said Beardsley. "So that's kind of our first step and that's why we're sending out this information."

Beardsley says these number of deaths are exclusively by heroin intoxication, or heroin was one of the drugs that contributed to death.

Currently, he says law enforcement are doing their jobs and prosecutors are prosecuting, so they're working hard to bring real solutions to this problem.

However, he says awareness is the first step.

"If you know someone who maybe struggling with any type of addiction. refer them for treatment and provide support," said Beardsley.


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