Did you know Iowa is ranked 35th in illicit drug use and 48th in overdose deaths in the United States as of 2023? 

These disturbing trends show an increase in drug and alcohol use and misuse in our state. Iowa binge drinking and nicotine use are skewing higher, and substance-related deaths rose to record levels in 2021.

ODCP is working to provide this information and education to help our state curb and improve our health with drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol Statistics

Doubled

Alcohol sales have doubled over the past decade

867

deaths (e.g., poisonings, accidents, and chronic disease) up 45% compared to 2019

Marijuana Statistics

6,503

marijuana-related hospital emergency department visits in 2021

8%

of 11th graders said they used marijuana in the past 30 days during 2021 (the lowest level in nearly 20 years)

Methamphetamine Statistics

3

methamphetamine labs found in the state in 2022

209

psychostimulant-related deaths (e.g. meth overdoses) in 2022, up 28% compared with 2019

Opioid Statistics

237

opioid-related deaths in Iowa in 2022

160%

increase in deaths among those under the age of 25 in 2022, compared with 2019

89%

opioid deaths where illicit fentanyl was implicated

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  • Influx of fentanyl and other potentially lethal synthetic opioids/drugs
  • Increased production of counterfeit pills, many laced with fentanyl/synthetic opioids.
  • Disproportionate number of Iowa youth dying from drug overdoses
  • Rising alcohol-related deaths affect many more Iowans, especially older adults
  • New or emerging substances quick to market (e.g., synthetic drug spinoffs)
  • Increasing polydrug trafficking and use
  • Pandemic-influenced changes in drug-related behaviors and responses
Drug Trends

Iowa's Evolving Drug Trends

Explore how the state of Iowa and its officials are responding to heath and safety concerns around Iowa's evolving drug trends.

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Common & Emerging Drugs

Explore information about common and emerging legal and illicit drugs.

Common & Emerging Drugs

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Evolving Challenges

As we tackle Iowa's changing drug landscape, other challenges emerge that impact how we help our communities. These challenges include:

  • Product proliferation: More alcoholic beverage choices, synthetic drugs, purchase/access points, etc.
  • Polysubstance use: Increasing use of two or more substances in mixture or succession (e.g., alcohol with caffeine drinks or marijuana, heroin laced with fentanyl, etc.), including fake pills consumed by unsuspecting users. 
  • Potency: Rising chemical concentrations and/or purities (e.g., craft beers, nicotine vaping pods, THC levels in marijuana, meth purity, and lethal synthetic opioids). 
  • Pace of change: New substances (e.g., synthetics) are developed/marketed at faster speeds. 
  • Policy loopholes and changes: Some new laws increase product access and others restrict it, but research and regulations struggle to keep pace with product evolutions. 
  • Pandemic response: COVID-related stressors have fanned the flames of mental health and substance use disorders.
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Blueprint for Prevention, Treatment, & Enforcement

Officials across the state are working together toward common goals to help Iowans be educated and informed about drug use and abuse and lead healthier lives. These goals include:

  • Reduce substance-related injuries and deaths
  • Reduce youth use of alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana (THC)
  • Increase timely access to substance use disorder (SUD) services
  • Increase employment and quality of life for those in or completing SUD treatment
  • Increase accountable alternatives to incarceration for eligible drug-related offenses 
  • Reduce the disproportionate number of minorities referred to the justice system
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Resources

Learn more and get access to state and national resources and information:

 

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