The most populous city in Iowa is Des Moines, which is the county seat of Polk County. Incorporated in 1851, Fort Des Moines was shortened six years later to “Des Moines”. The city is located on the Des Moines River, which was adapted from the French Colonial name “Rivière des Moines, meaning “river of the monks.” With 600,000 residents, the city is a major center of the U.S. insurance industry. Residents live on 90 square miles of land and water, which includes the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers. According to the Des Moines Register, the city has a serious opioid problem. The opioid epidemic has claimed more than 165,000 people since 1999 in the U.S. Iowa has the greatest number of lobbyists representing prescription drug companies than any other state. One Iowa legislator, Jack Hatch, helped lead an effort to establish a statewide database tracking Iowa opioid prescriptions, which helps prevent doctor shopping.
The second largest city in Iowa is Cedar Rapids and it is the county seat of Linn County. Bordering both banks of the Cedar River, the city is 20 miles north of Iowa City and 100 miles northeast of Des Moines. It is home to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Paramount Theatre, and the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library. Around 127,000 people reside in Cedar Rapids, IA, and it is part of the Marion-Hiawatha-Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Statistical Area. Nicknamed the “City of Five Seasons,” the fifth season is a symbol sculpture in downtown along the river bank. The racial makeup includes 88% white, 6% African-American, 2% Asian, 3% Hispanic, and 1% “other.” The Gazette reported on eastern Iowa’s drug problem, particularly heroin. In a local Linn County treatment center, 25 people were admitted in 2009 for heroin addiction. By 2012, the number had grown to 69. The facility director reports that there are increasing numbers of heroin users in the area and they are a mix of professional, blue collar, young, old and all races.
The county seat of Scoot County Iowa is Davenport, and it is the largest of the Quad Cities. There are around 101,000 residents, with another 280,000 persons in the CSA area of Iowa. Named for George Davenport, a Colonel in the Black Hawk War who was stationed at nearby Fort Armstrong, Davenport was founded in 1836. Several annual music festivals are held here such as the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival. The local minor league baseball team and the Quad Cities River Bandits are based in Davenport as well as 50+ park facilities for recreation in the area. The average family size in Davenport, IA is 3.03 and 32% of households have children in them. While 10.5% of families subside below the poverty line, the average family earning is $52,000. A primary report by Drug Science found that there were 6,829 arrests for marijuana in Iowa in 2007, which was an increased rate of 229 per 100,000 persons. Additionally, marijuana arrests accounted for 71% of all drug-related offenses in Iowa in 2007.
Located in both Plymouth and Woodbury counties, Sioux City is in the northwestern region of Iowa. With 83,000 residents, Sioux City is the fourth largest Iowa city. Considered part of the IA-NE-SD Metropolitan Statistical Area, it has seen a slight population growth over the last few years. Often called “Siouxland”, Sioux City is considered as one of Money magazine’s 2010 “Best Places to Live.” The racial makeup of the city is 81% white, 3% African-American, 2.6% Native American, 3% Asian, 10% Hispanic or “other.” The average family size is 3.14 and 34% of homes have children living in them. A report by KTIV cited that methamphetamine is a problem in the Sioux City region. The addiction is associated with the inability to abstain from drug use consistently, impairment of behavior control, cravings or hunger for the drug, diminished recognition of problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships and a dysfunctional emotional response.
A city in Johnson County, Iowa City is the county seat. Known as the City of Literature in North America, as awarded by UNESCO in 2008, Iowa City has a population of 74,200. It is known as a college town; being home to Kirkwood Community College and the University of Iowa. According to the 2010 census, 48% of adults hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and the racial makeup includes 80% white, 6% Asian, 6% Black, and 8% other races. The average family income in Iowa City is $41,400, which is lower than the state’s median. The top employers in Iowa City include the University of Iowa, the Universities Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City Community School District, Mercy Hospital and the VA Medical Center. A report from the Iowa Governor’s Office found that Iowa’s prescription abuse rate is somewhat lower than the national average but opioid abuse in this state is a fast-growing problem nonetheless. Deaths related to prescription opioids (pills) and heroin are at an all-time high in cities like Iowa City and in 2014, 3,000 grams of heroin was seized in this state.
The county seat of Black Hawk County is Waterloo, which is part of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area. Waterloo, IA has a population of 68,400 and is located on the north end of Interstate 380. It has the metropolitan bus system MET) and has five taxi operators. Residents and businesses of Waterloo are supplied with electricity by the MidAmerican Energy Company. Healthcare facilities include the Covenant Medical Center and Allen Memorial Hospital. The U.S. Attorney’s Office released a 2015 media advisory regarding Waterloo’s heroin epidemic and community treatment options. This report cited 47,055 lethal drug overdose deaths in 2014 in America, with Waterloo having many fatalities related to heroin. The “call to action” was introduced by the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative in 2015.
Ames is located in the central area of the state in Story County. The city is 30 miles north of Des Moines and it is home to the Iowa State University of Science. It is also birthplace of the Atanasoff-Berry computer, which was the world’s first electronic digital computer. With a population of 59,000, Ames was ranked 9th on CNN Money’s 2010 “Best Places to Live” list. The average family size in Ames is 2.82, and 19% of homes have children under the age of 18 in them. The median age in this city is 24 years, with a male-to-female ratio of 53:47. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 16% of surveyed Iowa high school students drank alcohol before the age of 13 years. In addition, 37% of those surveyed admitted to drinking alcohol within the last 30 days. Of those surveyed, 31% admitted to smoking marijuana during the past month. An additional 6% of high school respondents admitted to using prescription drugs during the last 30 days.
West Des Moines
West Des Moines is located in Dallas, Polk and Warren counties in Iowa. There are around 57,000 people in West Des Moines and Money magazine rated it as one of the 100 Best Places to Live in 2008. In 1939, during the Great Depression, a new elementary school and football stadium were built in the city. Patrons of the Val Air Ballroom (opened in 1930) enjoyed the musical mecca of Guy Lombardo, Glenn Miller, and other big bands. The city began to grow in 1950 when West Des Moines annexed the neighboring community of Clover Hills. In the 1990s, the city expanded, placing the premier golf courses in its city limits. The new police station opened in 1992, followed by a new public library in 1996. The local police and health officials have seen a surge of a synthetic opioid called “Pink.” As reported by WQAD, in November of 2015, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorized this substance with the highest potential for addiction and/or abuse, which is comparable to heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine. The drug also poses the greatest risks to college and high school students.
As the county seat of Pottawattamie County, Council Bluffs, Iowa is located along the east bank of Missouri River across from Omaha Nebraska. Known until 1852 as Kanesville, Iowa, the historic point of the Mormon Trail, the name was later changed. With a population of 62,000, the racial makeup includes 91% white, 2% African-American, 1% Asian, and 6% Hispanic or other races. The median age of Council Bluffs, IA is 36 years, with 24% of homes having children residing in them. The Omaha World Herald found that Council Bluffs has a methamphetamine problem. Meth use across Iowa has been growing during the last 10 years and this alarms public safety officials.
Dubuque, Iowa is located along the Mississippi River. There are 58,000 residents in the city and it lies at the junction of Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. Long been a center of manufacturing, the economy grew rapidly during the first years of the 21st century. By 2005, Dubuque led the state in job growth and the economy is based on education, health care, tourism, publishing, and financial services. The city has a strong Catholic presence, from many German and Irish descendants. According to a report by KCRG, there were 8 overdose deaths in March and another 8 in April 2015. Additionally, police have noted a deadly batch of fentanyl-laced heroin in the community, which is the cause of these fatalities. Dubuque County’s heroin epidemic is partly due to the prescription opioid problem, with heroin being a cheaper alternative to pills. The Drug Task Force Sergeant reports that 80% of heroin addicts first became addicted to pills and then switched to using heroin.