Life-Saving Overdose Prevention Bill Signed into Law
March 15, 2016
“I applaud Senator Johnny Ellis, Representative Lynn Gattis and their colleagues for shepherding this life-saving bill through the legislature,” said Governor Walker.. “While there is still much to be done to address the heroin epidemic that is plaguing Alaska, this piece of legislation will save lives and provide more individuals with the chance to seek out a road to recovery.”
“Too many Alaska families struggle with the devastating effects of heroin addiction. Sons and daughters, mothers and fathers are all too often left to pick up the pieces when a loved one is unexpectedly taken away by overdose,” said First Lady Donna Walker. “I thank Senator Ellis, Representative Gattis, and the entire legislature for recognizing the importance of this bill..”
SB 23, with no fiscal impact to the state, will prevent deaths and serious physical debilitation from opioid overdoses by allowing and encouraging the administration of naloxone in an appropriate and timely manner. The bill follows HB 369, known as the “Make the Call” Good Samaritan bill, which was passed in 2014 and offers restriction from prosecution for those who seek medical help when someone they know is experiencing an overdose.
Studies have shown that most overdoses are witnessed, and there is a one to three hour window in which an opioid overdose can be reversed, making many deaths preventable. A 2010 report from the Center for Disease Control credited overdose education and naloxone distribution for more than 10,000 documented overdose reversals since 1996.
“Heroin overdose is becoming far too common across our state and our nation. It is a tragedy that knows no socioeconomic limits, leaving behind heartbreak and struggle for too many Alaska families,” Governor Walker said. “The near-unanimous support for this bill is recognition to the urgency of this epidemic and the need to provide more treatment opportunities to Alaskans who are struggling with addiction. I am committed to working with the legislature on this critical issue in the months and years ahead.”
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