increase for prevention efforts
November 18, 2004
"Substance abuse and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are major problems in Alaska and my administration is committed to building healthier communities," Governor Murkowski said Wednesday. "These funds will be used to strengthen our current prevention efforts and will ultimately improve the quality of life for all Alaskans."
The governor's Fiscal 2006 budget request, which will be unveiled Dec. 15, will include increases of $6 million for substance abuse prevention and $1.1 million for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome prevention efforts. The initiatives were announced during a speech at the Alaska Prevention and Treatment Symposium in Anchorage.
Additional funding will allow the Governor's Advisory Board on Alcohol and Drug Abuse to help Alaska communities that chose to prohibit or restrict local alcohol sales. It will also help fund statewide and local public education and outreach efforts in preventing FAS, substance abuse and alcohol abuse.
Health and Social Services Commissioner Joel Gilbertson said substance abuse and dependency costs Alaska more than $600 million annually in lost productivity, health care and treatment and other public assistance costs.
A number of long-term cost-effectiveness studies have shown that every $1 spent on prevention and early intervention creates a benefit of up to $10, Gilbertson said. "Beyond the monetary costs, the human cost of ruined lives and broken families is an immeasurable and ongoing tragedy," said Gilbertson. "Alcohol abuse, in particular, is destroying families and communities. This new investment allows us to intervene early on and avoid the downstream costs to society as a result of substance abuses."
The Department of Health and Social Services will use the funding to develop a comprehensive statewide "prevention framework" that builds on existing substance abuse prevention efforts around Alaska.
This framework will utilize 16 prevention principles developed by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It will also promote the "science of prevention" and research-based prevention programs that can demonstrate both effectiveness and cost benefits.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a permanent birth defect syndrome caused by maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is the leading known, and the only 100 percent preventable, cause of mental retardation. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy destroys growing and developing cells in the fetus, causing permanent malformations in the brain.
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