Press Release: 17-049
JUNEAU – Governor Bill Walker announced today 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. 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.
“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.
- February 14 – Governor Walker issued a 30-day disaster declaration so naloxone could be distributed statewide
- February 16 – Governor Walker issued Administrative Order 283 establishing a plan of action that directs state departments to prioritize resources to combat the opioid epidemic and apply for federal grants to fund prevention, treatment and enforcement
- March 6 – Governor Walker filed legislation (HB 159/SB 79) to change the way opioids are prescribed and monitored
- March 10 – Governor Walker filed SB 91 to extend disaster declaration
- March 21 – Governor Walker signed SB 91, life-saving naloxone bill, into law
- April 17 – Governor Walker announced Alaska’s participation in CDC-NGA project