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Iowa gets $4 million in drug addiction funds in Obama plan

Pixabay / MGN

Under President Barack Obama's proposal to help ease a growing national problem related to drug addiction Iowa would get an additional $4 million to help expand treatment.

The money is critical as the number of people affected by the deadly epidemic grows by the day.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who was appointed by the president to oversee the opioid problem, said we should view the addiction as a disease, not a character flaw.

With more people dying from overdoses than car crashes, state leaders said something has to be done quickly.

Patricia Pressley and her son, Nicholas, have experience with the devastation opioid addiction causes.

"I so sadly remember the call that Nick made to me admitting his addiction to heroin at age 24," Pressley said. "I immediately took him to the ER at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics."

Nicholas died in February 2015 at the age of 31 after battling the addiction for seven years and seeking help from hospitals and treatment facilities six times.

"If our system of healthcare had worked, I would not be here talking to you today," Pressley said. "Nick's death highlighted the glaring inadequacies of the healthcare and chemical dependency treatment."

Secretary Vilsack said if the new budget is passed, the four million dollars that would be allotted to Iowa would help with prevention, treatment, recovery and reform.

"We do need more medication-assisted treatment, but we need it to be the right kind of medication-assisted treatment that is combined with not only the medications but also the counseling," Vilsack said.

It's going to take more than monetary investment, Vilsack said.

We have to change the way we think about this epidemic.

"We need to start thinking about diseases from the head up in the same way that we currently think of diseases from the head down," Vilsack said. "That's why the faith based community has a role to play in terms of creating an atmosphere in which people can seek help, can talk to others who are similarly situated."

Pressley's son was among the nearly 30,000 Americans who died from overdoses last year alone.

Iowa is 48th in drug overdoses with 8.8 deaths per 100,000 people.

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