CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- On Monday President Trump revealed his plan to curb opioid abuse nationwide. In part, the plan calls for stricter penalties for drug dealers and more treatment options.
And that's something Iowa could use as it has seen increase in opioid abuse.
In 2016, 25 people died from overdoses in the Linn County. Another 800 had to go to the hospital. In 2017, 27 died and 1,000 had to go to the hospital.
An organization in Linn County is well-aware of those numbers, and is working to bring together medical professionals, law enforcement, recovering addicts and their families. CRUSH of Iowa’s goal is for the community to realize how lethal opioids can be.
Rod Courtney often leads educational sessions about the dangers of drug abuse. These meetings are geared for recovering addict's families, and now happen monthly in Linn and Johnson counties. Courtney started volunteering his time with CRUSH about a year ago, after his son died from an overdose.
"I think sort of the catalyst for his opioid use was after an injury which isn't unusual and he was prescribed medication for that,” Courtney said.
Courtney says many of these families face barriers, even when their loved one is willing to get treatment.
"When you have a small window of opportunity for your loved one or your friends are saying 'Oh I'm ready to go to treatment and we have this lengthy wait. And that's not at the fault of the treatment centers," Courtney said.
That's why Courtney was pleased to hear President Trump's proposal to expanded treatment options, with federal funding. Congress recently appropriated $6 billion to combat the opioid crisis in the U.S.
Also in New Hampshire today, the President stated a goal to decrease prescription pills by one-third over the next three years in the U.S.
"I know prescription medications played a huge role in what we’re dealing with the heroin and opioid epidemic today," Courtney said.
Back in Iowa, many people get addicted to opioids through excessive use of pain killers. And too often that leads to a fatality, like Courtney's son.
"He started using heroin and the night of his fatal overdose he used uncut fentanyl,’ Courtney said.
Trump's plan also includes some controversial penalties for drug dealers. Today, the President suggested the death penalty for high-intensity traffickers.