IOWA -- The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is claiming a small victory in the war against opioid addiction.
The agency announced Friday that the number of Iowans dying from opioid overdoses is dropping. They say preliminary figures show a year-to-year decrease.
The biggest reason for the turnaround is the availability of the drug naloxone which can reverse an overdose. Naloxone is now carried by police officers and EMTs statewide and available for free at most pharmacies.
Health officials say advances in treating addiction with medication are also saving addicts from relapse.
Despite the great news, health officials say they aren't celebrating.
“This isn't something that we can sit back and enjoy the fact that we have had some success. We need to continue working on this issue,” said Kevin Gabbert, opioid initiatives director at IDPH.
Opioid-related deaths in Iowa more than tripled from 2005 to 2017.