Alaska Governor taking initiatives to combat opioid abuse

06-08-2017 Posted in Drug Addiction, opioids

The United States has been witnessing a rise in episodes of opioid abuse that has resulted in an epidemic situation across various parts of the country. Countless propositions have been put forth to curtail the rising opioid crisis stemming from misuse or overdose of prescription medications. In February 2017, the Alaska Governor, Bill Walker, announced a disaster declaration on the state’s opioid condition. The administrative order aims to address the issue of opioid epidemic similar to previous orders dealing with natural disasters and related problems.

Walker’s letter directing state funds to combat the prescription medicines epidemic suggested that the current estimated costs of responding to the opioid scourge in roughly $4,058,316. He added that the grants from the federal level can help finance the response costs while those received from the Department of Health and Social Services (HSS) would also be allocated to bring the situation under control.

Restricting drug inflow and releasing funds to help opioid working groups

The order contains details about how to rein in rampant use of opioids including painkillers and heroin and came a week after the governor condemned the opioid overuse as being disastrous to public health. In keeping with the current focus of the Trump administration of intercepting and impeding any kind of drug inflow across the country’s border, Walker also requested the Department of Public Safety in barring entry of illicit drugs in the state. The order also directed the corrections department to formulate a program for inmates who are about to be released and need help to gain relief from their addiction problems.

The order was passed amid burgeoning need for more funds to help opioid working groups focus on the issue of combating prescription drug abuse as they suffered from lack of finances and authority. The proposed funding of $4.1 million in federal grants as per the order would be used to distribute the much needed antidote, Naloxone, to curtail episodes of opioid overdose in the state. The proposed grant would be spent over a span of five years.

Removing barriers to availability and use of naloxone

According to the Prescription Opioid Overdose Data published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 1999 and 2014, the rates of overdose of opioids were more among Alaskan natives and non-Hispanic whites than others. Records by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services show 83 deaths due to overdose of prescription opioid pain relievers in 2015 alone. By removing barriers and providing greater accessibility to naloxone, that alters the respiratory depression caused due to opioid misuse, there is hope for families and primary care providers to offer instant help.

Walker’s declarations came in the wake of similar announcements made by few other states inclusive of Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. A month later, Walker also proposed additional steps including pain management training for medical providers and limits on initial prescriptions. As per the proposal, adult patients can refuse to accept opioids as part of health care directive. The proposal also briefs the health care providers to seek approval from parent or guardian and make them aware about the benefits and risks of opioid use before prescribing them to patients younger than 18 years. It also mandates daily updates and maintenance of controlled substance prescription database. Any noncompliance by a pharmacist or a practitioner to register, submit and review information would call for disciplinary action.

Treating opioid addiction at the earliest possible

One of the most developed economies of the world, America, is still in the midst of its struggle to find solutions to problems stemming from excessive consumption of opioids. Health care officials and law enforcement policies should make available the best possible evidence-based treatment options to provide relief to millions suffering. Families and friends should also do their bit in encouraging the patients to seek timely treatment.

If you or your loved one is suffering from addiction to prescription drugs, seek assistance from the 24/7 Drug Addiction Helpline. For more information about inpatient drug abuse treatment centers, you may call our 24/7 helpline number 866-403–5607. If you know someone who is in need of instant help, you can chat with our online representatives to get the required help for drug addiction.