Iowa might not be the biggest populated state in the nation, but it has some big issues when it comes to substance abuse. Like other rural areas, Iowa has been hard-hit by meth and other drugs.

While there are hundreds of drugs abused, some are far more common than others. Nearly 28,000 people visited treatment centers for substance abuse in Iowa in 2018. Thousands more have issues with drugs and alcohol that go untreated.

Let’s dive into Iowa’s top 5 most abused drugs:

#1: Alcohol

Somehow, many people forget that alcohol is a dangerous drug of abuse. Perhaps it is the fact that alcohol remains one of the only legal recreational drugs in the country.

But despite the fact that it is legal, alcohol abuse can have devastating effects. Iowa residents are no strangers to the ways that alcohol can ruin lives.

These stats tell the real story when it comes to alcohol abuse in Iowa:

  • Alcohol was the primary drug abused in more than 36% of all treatment admissions in Iowa in 2018.
  • About 70% of those admissions were men.
  • Between a quarter and a third of all fatal car crashes in Iowa over the past decade involved alcohol.
  • Binge drinking is more common among Iowans than the nation as a whole.

#2: Amphetamines

Amphetamines are the second leading drug of abuse in Iowa. This dangerous class of drugs includes the notorious narcotic meth, which is well-known for devastating entire rural areas of the country.

Unfortunately, Iowa is no different in this regard. Meth use is very common in this state. Other amphetamines include the popular ADHD medications Adderall and Ritalin.

Let’s take a look at the stats about these dangerous drugs in Iowa:

  • Almost 30% of treatment admissions in the state in 2018 were due to amphetamines. The national average rate is about 10%
  • During every year from 2008 to 2014, meth use rose in Iowa.
  • Meth purity in Iowa rose from 35% in 2008 to 93% in 2014. More pure forms of meth are more addictive.

#3: Marijuana

Marijuana has been legalized by many states in recent years. One of the most recent states to make the change was Illinois, which shares a border with Iowa. But as many states decide to legalize pot, it is becoming clear that this drug is not as harmless as most people think.

Iowa residents know a thing or two about cannabis problems. Let’s check the facts to get a better idea of what’s going on with pot in this state:

  • More than 6,400 people checked into treatment in Iowa in 2018 because of pot use.
  • A recent survey showed that it is becoming more common for Iowa teens to see pot as harmless.
  • Cannabis is the main drug of abuse for people under 18 in substance abuse treatment in Iowa. About 2/3 youth in treatment in Iowa are abusing pot.

#4: Prescription Opiates

The opioid crisis has hit many areas of the country, and unfortunately, Iowa is no different. This state has seen major effects from the abuse of painkillers, including overdose deaths and lots of addiction.

Here are some shocking stats about prescription opioid abuse in Iowa:

  • 104 people died from overdosing on prescription opioids in 2017. Although this number has fallen since its peak in 2012, it is still the highest of any type of opioid for the state.
  • Doctors have started writing far less opioid prescriptions in Iowa, but overdose numbers have remained steady since 2014.
  • More than 1,000 people checked into treatment in Iowa in 2018 for problems with opiates other than heroin.

#5: Heroin

One of the major problems with the opioid crisis is that it makes heroin use more common. When people can no longer get pain pills, they turn to heroin for a cheaper, more widely available fix.

Heroin is a very dangerous drug that can cause problems for users in many ways. Not only can it result in overdose, but infections and disease can be spread through the needles that are often shared by users.

Here are the stats when it comes to heroin abuse in Iowa:

  • Nearly 1,000 people said heroin was their main reason for checking into treatment in Iowa in 2018.
  • Heroin abuse has exploded in Iowa since 2005, when only 186 people needed treatment for the drug.
  • Heroin use is most common in Iowa among people between the ages of 26 and 30.

Get Treatment for Drug Abuse in Iowa

Are you one of the thousands of people in Iowa seeking treatment from drug abuse? Do you want to turn your life around?

You don’t need to do it alone. Treatment centers can help you get your life back on track. Call Rehab Adviser today to discuss your options for recovery. There’s isn’t a more important call to make.


  1. DASIS Quick Statistics. (n.d.)
  2. State of Iowa Substance Use Epidemiological Profile. (n.d.)

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