To the Editor,
Iowa families are needlessly losing sons, daughters, mothers and fathers to overdose deaths. In 2013, nearly 100 Iowans died from opiate overdoses — a sharp increase over the last decade that has yet to receive an effective response from state leaders.
An individual dying from an overdose can linger for hours. While there is often enough time to get help, the fear of criminal prosecution discourages other people from calling for help. In addition, opiate antidotes can dramatically slow or reverse the deadly effects of an overdose. Unfortunately, it is illegal for non-health care workers to possess or provide this drug to overdose victims.
While we should do more to prevent opiate addictions through better public education and drug abuse treatment, we must do more to save lives now.
Other states have dramatically reduced overdose deaths by providing immunity to those who call for help for an overdose victim and by making it legal for more individuals to provide life-saving antidotes.
Here in Iowa, families want these same safeguards, and we should listen to them. We should also listen to health professionals and paramedics like State Senator Chris Brase of Muscatine. He has seen first-hand the senseless deaths Iowa families suffer due to opiate overdoses. Last March, he helped convince the Iowa Senate to cast an overwhelming bipartisan 44-2 vote in favor of Senate File 410.
Now it is up to the Iowa House and Governor Branstad. I’m hopeful Linda Upmeyer, the new Speaker of the House, will make this a priority in the 2016 session. The legislation has already been unanimously approved by the Iowa House’s Public Safety Committee.
Opiate addiction affects many Iowa families. We should all pay attention to suffering Iowa families working to prevent additional tragedies.
Let’s make Iowa the next state to allow sensible, effective measures that will prevent overdose deaths.
(Hogg is a state senator from Cedar Rapids. He currently serves as chair of the Senate Government Oversight Committee and vice-chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.)
To the Editor,