Alaska Receives $2 Million Federal Grant to Combat Opioid Abuse
April 21, 2017
“We continue to make major efforts to address this public health crisis, and it’s good to see that the federal government recognizes the work that has been done so far,” Governor Walker said. “I directed my commissioners to go after every grant available to address the state’s growing opioid epidemic, and we are doing just that. This funding will be of vital importance as we continue our efforts to address our opioid epidemic by providing the resources and the supports individuals need to break the cycle of opioid abuse, and create a safer Alaska.”
The grant will allow Alaska to support the five pillars of combatting opioids: strengthening public health assessment, advancing the practice of pain management, improving access to treatment and recovery resources, increasing the availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs like naloxone, and assisting cutting-edge research. The Walker-Mallott Administration is currently working to identify which programs and services will be augmented by the funds.
Governor Walker also announced this week that Alaska has been selected to participate in a national project to help combat the state’s opioid and heroin epidemic. In two months, Alaska will have an action plan geared toward treating those in the criminal justice population - with help from the National Governors Association and the Centers for Disease Control.
“When I first declared the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic to be a public health disaster, I knew that we would have to take multi-pronged approach—with everyone pulling together,” Governor Walker said. “I am pleased that we will be able to learn from other states on how they have successfully treated their incarcerated populations so they can re-enter society clean, sober and productive.”
Up to 80 percent of inmates who receive Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) behavioral health services are diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder. Last week, DOC administered its first behind-the walls extended-release naltrexone shots to inmates at Hiland Correctional Center. These shots block the effects of opioids, and curb cravings for a month - which give inmates a chance to enroll in treatment programs, take control of their lives, and safely return to their communities.
Through the NGA and CDC project, Alaska will develop a six-month plan to expand access to medication-assisted substance use disorder treatment programs inside correctional facilities, and ensure that the programs operate within the state’s network of community care providers and Alaska’s Therapeutic Court system.
Alaska is one of eight states selected by the National Governors' Association (NGA) to learn from Massachusetts’ approach toward improving access to opioid treatment for inmates and parolees through drugs courts and community treatment.
Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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