Contributed by Michelle Overstreet
MY House was recently recognized by Governor Bill Walker for starting the grassroots Mat Su Opioid Task Force and impacting the opiate epidemic on a statewide scale with their work.
A bill signing ceremony was recently held at the MY House Gathering Grounds Café, celebrating a law that creates an opioid prescription database, prevents “doctor shopping” and imposes limits on the number of opiate pills prescribed for medical procedures and the length of time a person can receive opiates for pain, with exceptions for those managing chronic pain. These measures are all designed to prevent addiction and overdose, and save lives.
This is in the wake of a national announcement that death from opiate overdose is now the leading cause of death for youth ages, 14-24, which has a significant impact on the clientele that MY House is serving. In addition, Chris Christie, Chair of President Trump’s Federal Commission on Opiates has stated that more people are dying every three weeks from opiate overdoses than died on 9/11. As the death rates continue to climb, states like Alaska are taking matters seriously and finding solutions, like the new law.
The Mat Su Opiate Task Force has also sent members to Juneau and Kodiak to talk about how to start effective Task Force work in those communities, and have been invited by others to share the strategies that have marked their success.
These strategies include close and cohesive partnerships between agencies who work with high-risk populations, like MY House and treatment providers. It also emphasizes the value of peer-to-peer support programs, like Fiend2Clean, owned and operated by two addicts in long-term recovery who have made it their mission to help others. And the continued battle to increase access to affordable treatment for addicts remains an important part of the Task Force’s mission. Building a community that offers various entry points to recovery, and many supports for long-term recovery is priority. It all comes down to saving lives and working together as Alaskans to make a difference.
Valley Legislators Oppose Opiate Legislation:
While the reader board for the House clearly indicates opposition for the Opioid Bill from local legislators, the measure passed, bringing Alaska to the forefront of aggressive legislation designed to keep opioids from being over-prescribed, and preventing addicts from having more than one doctor at a time prescribing the addictive medications.
As a result of this legislation and work done by the Mat Su Opioid Task Force, a recent article in the Huffington Post applauds Alaska for the work being done, partnerships being built to change the recovery climate and for covering a wide geographical area with communication and coordinated services. By bringing together local providers who can coordinate services and work with a diverse group of organizations and individuals, we save money, lives and family anguish.