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Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has experienced increasing numbers of prescription pain reliever dependencies turn into life-threatening heroin addictions.

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Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has experienced increasing numbers of prescription pain reliever dependencies turn into life-threatening heroin addictions.
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Drug and Alcohol Abuse Trends in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The second-most populous city in Iowa, Cedar Rapids is located in the eastern half of the state, 20 miles north of Iowa City. It is home to 126,326 residents of Linn County and was recognized in 2018 as a city with a concentration of high-growth companies. Compared to other states, Iowa’s substance abuse issues have claimed fewer lives. In 2016, Iowa had an age-adjusted drug-induced death rate of 10.6 deaths per 100,000 people, while the U.S. rate was 19.8 for the same time.

In Cedar Rapids, the most common substances of abuse are:

Alcohol Abuse in Cedar Rapids

While rates of abuse for illicit drugs (like heroin and meth) have increased since 2012, alcohol is still the most common reason for admission to addiction treatment. In 2012, 16.5% of Linn County residents reported binge drinking. By 2016, that number had risen to 19.1%. Alcohol-related deaths also outnumbered drug-induced deaths in Iowa during that time. Overall, excessive alcohol use is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the county.

Because alcohol can be legally purchased, many don’t realize they have an alcohol dependency until it’s too late. Yet, the health consequences of alcohol abuse are such that early intervention can prevent fatal diseases like alcoholic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and mental impairment. Signs of an alcohol addiction include:

  • Drinking more, or longer, than you’d planned
  • Trying to cut back or stop drinking but can’t
  • Having to drink significantly more for the same feeling
  • Spending a lot of time drinking, being sick, or hungover
  • Having problems with family or work because of drinking
  • Feeling restless, shaky, sweating, having trouble sleeping or nausea when buzz wears off

Opioid Abuse in Cedar Rapids

Overdose deaths and emergency room visits due to opioid abuse has been statistically lower in Iowa than other states. However, addiction rates within cities like Cedar Rapids have increased since 2012. Between 2012 and 2014, opioid-related deaths increased by a third, hospitalizations more than doubled, and emergency room visits increased tenfold. Like other cities experiencing the effects of the Opioid Epidemic, heroin deaths also increased following crackdowns on painkiller prescriptions.

Most people with an opioid use disorder (OUD) began by taking pain medication prescribed after surgery. Many people switch to heroin once it becomes too expensive to buy prescription opioids, or when they are seeking a more intense high. The potency of heroin, coupled with the likelihood of the presence of deadly fentanyl, high rates of people using heroin have overdosed. In 2016 in Cedar Rapids, over 800 people were taken to the ER for heroin overdose. Of those, 25 people died.

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Substance Abuse Statistics for Cedar Rapids



In 2015, 84% of all overdoses in Linn County involved heroin or opioid medications.


ER visits

In 2016, there were 246 opioid-related outpatient visits in Linn County, compared to 20 in 2013.


opioid deaths

In 2016, 27 Linn County residents died due to opioid overdose.

Addiction Treatment in Cedar Rapids

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration lists 7 substance abuse treatment facilities in the Cedar Rapids area. Moreover, most treatment centers are at or near capacity and carry months-long waitlists. Only 29% of Iowans in need of opioid addiction treatment are able to receive it in the state.

Yet, heroin and opioid addictions are such that it’s important for an individual to enter treatment as soon as they have agreed to go. Due to the pain of withdrawal symptoms (which can feel like a fatal version of the flu), most are not able to refrain from opioid use before entering treatment – even if they are on a waitlist. Many people have overdosed while waiting for treatment or have changed their mind about attending.

Find a Rehab Today

For some in the Cedar Rapids area, traveling for rehab may be the best option. By opening up rehab options to include out-of-state facilities, people may be able to enter treatment sooner and attend a program tailored to their addiction. Additionally, neighboring states like Wisconsin have 6 times as many physicians authorized to prescribe medication to treat opioid addiction.

If you need more information about your rehab options, talk to a recovery provider today.

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College Programs

St. Luke's Family Counseling Center

Coe College

St. Luke’s Family Counseling Center offers Assessment, Individual counseling, Group counseling, Short-term counseling, Referral to community resources, Alcohol and other drug screening. Th...

1220 First Avenue NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

Counseling Services

Mount Mercy University

Mount Mercy University Counseling Services is here to improve your academic life and University meet. We are here to help address issues influencing the entire individual—including ventures to e...

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Counseling Center

Cornell College

All of the Counseling Center’s services are free of cost and it includes: Short-term, classified individual and couple counseling for Cornell students. Support bunches on differing concern...

600 First Street SW
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University Counseling Service (UCS)

University of Iowa

The mission of the University Counseling Service is to give sympathetic psychological services, effort, and preparing that encourage the psychological wellness of students, sustain students achi...

Iowa City
IA 52242, USA

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