Waterloo/Black Hawk County Town Hall Discusses Heroin Epidemic and Treatment Options
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Last night the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Northern District of Iowa hosted a town hall at the Waterloo Center for the Arts to discuss treatment options available to tackle the opioid and heroin epidemic facing the greater Waterloo and Black Hawk County community. The community joined Cedar Rapids and Dubuque to fight this threat with the assistance of the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative, which recently held a meeting in Davenport sponsored by the USAO for the Southern District of Iowa.
Every day, 44 people in the United States die from overdose of prescription painkillers. Yearly, overdose deaths exceed motor vehicle or firearms deaths. The most recent data available indicates that in 2014, over 47,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses with more than half of that number being caused by prescription painkillers and heroin. The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated over 900,000 Americans reported using heroin in 2014, reflecting a 35% increase from the previous year.
United States Attorney Kevin W. Techau offered his assessment of the challenge facing the community in his opening comments stating, “The rise of heroin and the misuse of prescription opioids in Iowa is one of our biggest challenges to public health and public safety. It threatens our communities, families, and children. Heroin use and the prescription drug misuse are intertwined and both must be addressed. The meeting tonight will discuss all aspects of the problem so we can work together with our federal, state, and local partners to fight this growing epidemic through a combination of enforcement, prevention, education, and treatment.”
Following comments made by U.S. Attorney Techau and Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson, the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative Coordinator, Cedar Rapids Police Office Al Fear, discussed how the initiative was started and the importance of community involvement to address the epidemic. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Reinert provided a detailed picture of the threat facing eastern Iowa. The threat was made more real when a mother who lost her son to heroin spoke about how his drug use and death impacted their family. Treatment options were outlined by Pathways Behavioral Services, Inc. and Horizons Family Centered Recovery Program.
A Question and Answer panel discussion engaged those attending and was followed by the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative launching C.R.U.S.H. (Community Resources United to Stop Heroin), which is a community outreach initiative designed to involve schools, law enforcement, treatment providers, community leaders and health care organizations to address the growing epidemic. This community response was recently initiated in Linn, Dubuque and Clinton counties. Attendees were encouraged to join and told they could do so by texting “Heroin” to 51555.
To learn more about the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative, visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/EasternIowaHeroinInitiative.
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