Program Aiming to Prevent Drug Addiction Faces Budget Cuts

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  A program in Des Moines dedicated to reducing the number of drug-related deaths is now facing cuts under the president’s new budget blueprint.

Tony Sposeto with the Des Moines Fire Department says he and his team are responding to more and more heroin and opioid overdoses each month.

"Significantly on the rise. We've noticed up through April this year we've responded to 100 opioid-related overdoses, whereas last year, we saw only 46," Sposeto said.

To put that into perspective, that's about one call every day.

"More of an accidental overdose, those are typically and historically what we are used to dealing with," Sposeto said.

Des Moines AmeriCorps VISTA is partnering with 42 Iowa drug prevention groups to help decrease those numbers with treatment services.

The Trump administration's push to balance the budget and emphasize national security would cut the Department of Health Human Services nearly by $15 billion.

Under that is VISTA, the program the helps nearly 8,000 people statewide. VISTA officials there say less money means less resources all around.

Right now, Congress is working to approve the president's new budget. At the same time, Des Moines fire officials and VISTA say they're combining forces to tackle Iowa’s growing opioid epidemic.