Coalition Pledges Increased Legislative Attention to Resources and Solutions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2017

Juneau – The members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition commend Governor Walker for his decision to sign a disaster declaration for the worsening opioid epidemic in Alaska.  The disaster declaration allows a statewide program under the direction of Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer to facilitate the distribution of the life-saving drug naloxone, which is used to revive overdose victims.  Earlier today, Governor Walker signed an Administrative Order that sets up an Incident Command System and directs all state departments to apply for federal grants to respond to the opioid epidemic.     

“The scope of the drug abuse problem in Alaska is in many ways the worst in the nation and warrants a disaster declaration,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham).  “I pledge the support of the Alaska House Majority Coalition to do whatever we can to help the Governor and our first responders who are on the front lines of this epidemic.”

In recent years, Alaska’s rates of opioid abuse, including heroin, have increased dramatically; leading to a quadrupling of the number of heroin-related deaths from 2009 to 2015.  The epidemic has been exacerbated by the introduction of new synthetic drugs and the availability of opioids in every region of the state.

“The abuse of illegal drugs like heroin is devastating families and ruining futures.  I support efforts to increase the availability of treatment and hope our fiscal challenges can be managed without damaging cuts to the resources needed now more than ever to respond to this epidemic,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).  “Treatment is one side of the equation, the other side is law enforcement.  I will be working to make sure the state has enough Troopers and cities have enough police officers to cut off the sale and importation of illegal drugs into Alaska.”

Governor Walker’s Administrative Order 283 declares the abuse of opioids as a major public health issue and includes a directive for the Department of Public Safety to identify the ways illegal drugs are brought in Alaska and to pursue improved screening and enforcement measure to stop the trafficking of illegal drugs.

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

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