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Governor Murkowski to propose $3 million to fight substance abuse,
$500,000 to enhance FAS prevention programs


November 02, 2005

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Commissioner Karleen Jackson announced Tuesday during her opening remarks to the 2005 FAS Summit at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage Governor Murkowski's fiscal year 2007 budget proposals to prevent youth substance abuse and enhance the state's initiatives to combat Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

" Alaska is beginning to see improvement in our rates of youth abusing substances," DHSS Commissioner Karleen Jackson said. "The number of youth using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is decreasing, but we must continue our efforts to keep the trend moving on a positive direction. Through the governor's 'Prevent Underage Alcohol and Drug Use' initiative, we are proposing a more focused approach, more community commitment, and a stronger partnership with all Alaskans to truly overcome the devastation of youth alcohol and substance abuse."

The governor's fiscal 2007 budget request, which will be unveiled Dec. 15, will include $3 million for substance abuse prevention and $500,000 for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome prevention efforts.

The governor's substance abuse proposal will help fund statewide and local community-based efforts to prevent underage alcohol and substance abuse. The funds will underwrite local programs based on national models that have proven to be effective, and will use measurable outcomes to determine if the programs are indeed making a difference. "This initiative will promote proven, effective programs that focus on life-skill development, mentoring, alcohol-use curricula, family strengths and community services," Jackson said. To determine the most effective strategy for an individual community, local needs assessments, planning and readiness will be determined prior to selecting an effective program, Jackson said.

Jackson said substance abuse and dependency costs Alaska $738 million annually, and the human cost of ruined lives and broken families is an immeasurable and ongoing tragedy. "The state can not solve the behavioral health problems faced by our communities ­ the state can only assist in the development of strong, quality programs at the community level, with community input and community ownership," Jackson said.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are permanent birth defects 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 damage to the brain. A five-year federal grant to develop a solid foundation of support, services and program development to address FASD ended in Sept. 2005. The funding request for FY07 continues the commitment of Alaska to build a strong response to FASD.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders funding will be used to continue the development of interdisciplinary service delivery models for working with individuals impacted by prenatal exposure to alcohol, focusing on existing service delivery systems that currently work with such individuals such as schools, substance treatment, mental health, criminal justice, child protective services, youth services and others.


Source of News:

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services


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