Updated on May 17, 2024
3 min read

Updated Drug and Alcohol Statistics for Iowa

Iowa has been facing a significant drug and alcohol addiction crisis, which has had far-reaching consequences for individuals, families, and communities across the state. This article presents an overview of the latest statistics on substance use disorders, alcohol use and related issues, youth substance use, the opioid crisis, and treatment and recovery challenges in Iowa, highlighting the urgent need for effective solutions.

  • Alcohol-related deaths in Iowa jumped to 923 in 2021.1
  • Iowa experienced a 64% hike in opioid-involved overdoses, claiming 258 lives in 2021.2
  • In 2021, alcohol-related deaths were 760 (+27%), opioid overdoses were 212 (+35%), and psychostimulant overdoses were 164 in Iowa.3

Substance Use and Disorders

Substance use and disorders are prevalent in Iowa, with the state ranking lower than the national average in some areas. Here are some key statistics:

  • In 2017/2018, Iowa ranked 45th in current illicit drug use (9.17% vs. 12.34% US), 48th in current marijuana use (6.70% vs. 10.80% US), and 44th in current cocaine use (1.45% vs. 2.00% US).3
  • Iowa ranked 39th in heroin use (0.25% vs. 0.28% US) yearly.3
  • Iowa had a drug overdose death rate of 9.6 deaths per 100,000, which is lower than the national rate of 20.7 per 100,000.3
  • Iowa ranked 5th with a pain reliever misuse rate of 4.14% yearly.3
  • Iowa ranked 8th in current binge drinking (27.92% vs. 24.21% US).3
Iowa chart 1

These numbers demonstrate the widespread nature of substance use issues in the state, despite being lower than the national average in some categories.

Alcohol Use and Related Issues

Alcohol use and related issues are significant concerns in Iowa, with excessive drinking and alcohol-related deaths on the rise. Consider these statistics:

  • 22.8% of Iowa adults report binge or heavy drinking.4
  • Alcohol sales have been rapidly rising, with some establishments doubling alcohol sales in six months.4
  • Alcohol-involved deaths increased by more than 73% in Iowa between 2008 and 2019.5

Addressing alcohol-related issues through prevention and treatment is essential for improving public health in Iowa.


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Youth Substance Use

Substance use among young people in Iowa is a growing concern, particularly when it comes to alcohol. Here is a relevant statistic:

  • The prevalence of binge drinking in the past 30 days among Iowa young adults was 33% in 2020.6

Early intervention and prevention efforts are crucial to help young people avoid developing substance use disorders.

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Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic has affected Iowa, with prescription opioid overdoses and opioid-involved overdose deaths increasing in recent years. Here are some key statistics:

  • The rate of prescription opioid overdoses in Iowa increased from 2.1 per 100,000 in 2003 to 8.8 per 100,000 in 2009, then declined to 5.1 per 100,000 in 2014.7

The increase in opioid-related deaths underscores the need for effective prevention and treatment strategies.

Treatment and Recovery

Access to quality treatment and recovery services is essential for addressing substance use disorders in Iowa. Here are some relevant statistics:

  • 60.2% of state prisoners and 42.1% of probationers/parolees have an active substance abuse treatment need.3
  • The primary substance of Iowans 12+ in substance use disorder treatment was alcohol, followed by marijuana and meth.3

Expanding access to effective treatment and support for long-term recovery is crucial for helping individuals and communities affected by addiction.

The statistics presented in this article paint a troubling picture of the drug and alcohol addiction landscape in Iowa. From the rising alcohol-related deaths and opioid-involved overdoses to the concerning levels of youth substance use, it is clear that the state faces significant challenges in addressing this crisis. However, by prioritizing prevention, expanding access to quality treatment, and supporting long-term recovery, Iowa can work towards a healthier, more resilient future for all its residents.

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Updated on May 17, 2024

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