DES MOINES, Iowa-- Iowa is considered a low incidence state when it comes to the number of deaths involving opioids. However, the Department of Public Health's Opioid Initiative Director, Kevin Gabbert, says the goal is for Iowa to be a no incident state. Which is why they partnered with the University of Iowa Healthcare to provide these Narcan kits to the public. The target for these kits aren't the ones with the addiction, but the loved ones of the user.
“We feel that this particular initiative, it's for everyone, but it really targets those persons in a position to assist. Those individuals that care about someone else and want to be better prepared in the event that their loved one or family member or friend display some sort of symptoms of an opioid overdose,” Gabbert said.
Gabbert also made it clear that naloxone is not an end all be all drug solution to the opioid crisis. It is only a resource to help keep Iowans alive during a time of emergency. Gabbert says right now the data shows that there were no increases or decreases in the amount of opioid deaths in Iowa from 2018 to 2019. The Department of Public Health hopes to change that in 2020 by figuring out more recovery efforts and ways to help users beyond treatment.
“Do they have stable housing, what other recovery support services do they need, what are some of the barriers that they're experiencing, the things like transportation, childcare,” Gabbert said. “We need to look at those areas, not just what we've provided them as a foundation, but what we can offer them is a change in their lifestyle.”
There’s also been talk about law enforcement carrying Narcan kits. Sgt. Parizek said some problems DMPD ran into were questioning if it was cost effective and the logistics of storing it. He also mentioned that in most cases the fire department gets to the scene first and they always have Narcan kits. So right now the law enforcement’s part in fighting the opioid crisis is keeping drug dealers off the streets.