CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — In 2017, more than 700,000 people died from opioid drug-overdoses according to the CDC, 206 of them right here in Iowa.
That prompted about 30 agencies in Linn County to get together to ask the question, what can they do to stop the crisis?
After spending two years working to find an answer to that question, the Linn County Opioid Steering Committee released an action plan with recommendations just last week.
Linn County hospitals saw hundreds of emergency room visits in 2017 for overdoses, some never made a recovery.
Linn County Public Health Director, Pramod Dwivedi says that raised serious red flags, “We identified about 27 overdose deaths attributed to opioids and hundreds of hospitalizations. So we really felt it was really a big emerging public health issue and let’s do something about it.”
Those agencies identified gaps in services that the county already offers, focusing on getting those addicted treatments.
The plan also focuses on preventing addiction in the first place with education and outreach.
“Providing more treatment facilities because we are lacking that right now. If we have someone addicted and they need treatment, we need beds in house, where they can be comprehensively treated,” said Dwivedi.
As the new public health building goes up, that will free up space in the old building for an access center with resources for those in recovery.
“Those who come through the access centers door could be connected with different services based on their needs,” said Dwivedi.
Recommendations also include making Naloxone or Narcan readily available, especially to first responders.
The Cedar Rapids Police Department already began equipping officers with the potentially life-saving overdose antidote last year.
Recommendations also focus on urging legislators to change laws around opioids, such as the way people can get a hold of them.
Dwivedi says making sure agencies in Linn County are exploring alternative pain management techniques is also important to preventing opioid addiction.
Today, the Trump Administration announced a $2 billion will be given to states as grants to tackle the crisis.