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Iowa has reputation as a quiet state of corn and cow farmers. Despite this bucolic image, Iowa has a significant problem with drugs and addiction.

Methamphetamine use and trafficking is of the most concern in Iowa. Cocaine, especially crack cocaine, is a problem in the cities. It is smuggled into Iowa from the Southern states and Texas. Iowa is a drug shipment hub for drugs to the Northeastern states via Interstate 80. Other highways crisscross the state with major cities like Chicago that are within a few hours’ drive and thus provide a critical smuggling route for the drugs. Most cocaine comes into Iowa from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Florida and Texas. Once the cocaine arrives, it is converted into crack cocaine and then distributed by street gangs. This has resulted in a marked increase in gang-related violence, crime, thefts, and prostitution.

Heroin use in Iowa has been dropping over the past ten years. Despite this fact, hospitals in Iowa continue to report a significant number of medically related problems associated with heroin abuse.

Methamphetamine use and abuse has steadily increased in Iowa over the past 20 years. Since the ban on over-the-counter ephedrine, however, methamphetamine labs have declined, though they still pose a problem for law enforcement. The existence of the labs also create environmental pollution and the risk of fire to the rest of the community. Methamphetamine can sell for as much as $20,000 per pound and this has led to a more violent drug trade in Iowa.

Club drug use has increased in Iowa, especially in college towns. MDMA, GHB, PCP, LSD and ketamine (special K) are available at clubs and rave parties. It is a trade that is also controlled by gangs.

Prescription drug addiction continues to rise in Iowa. Oxycontin is the top drug abused, though hydrocodone, methadone, diazepam, Lortab and Xanax have also added to the mix. Prescription forgeries, ‘doctor shopping’ and internet sales fuel the epidemic. Pain management clinics have opened across the state and pose social and health problems to the surrounding communities. Iowa has also seen an increase in the distribution and abuse of steroids.

In 2005, statistics in Iowa show that approximately 218,000 people had an addiction to alcohol and 57,000 had a problem with drug addiction.

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