Alaska suffers from the effects of substance abuse. It remains one of our most serious health and social problems. We need public-private partnerships and long term strategies to prevent, intervene early, treat and help people recover. Read more in today's post.
Alaska suffers from the effects of substance abuse. It remains one of our most serious health and social problems, and is a contributing factor in suicides, crime, domestic violence, child abuse, unemployment, school dropout rates, juvenile delinquency, and other issues.
Substance abuse and dependence are associated with substantial health and social costs, and we need public-private partnerships and long term strategies to prevent, intervene early, treat and help people recover.
In July 2008 at the invitation of Rasmuson Foundation, a group of 20 Alaska leaders, guided by a facilitator with expertise in the subject, gathered for a two-day think tank retreat to formulate new ideas about how to address substance abuse in Alaska. The challenge at this and subsequent meetings was to identify immediate changes that could be made in existing systems and to brainstorm long term strategies for moving the needle on this issue.
Rasmuson Foundation, the Alaska Mental Health Trust, and Mat-Su Health Foundation signed a Memorandum of Agreement to dedicate financial and human resources to exploring the best way for organized philanthropy to have an impact.
This partnership initiative was given the name “Recover Alaska.” It suggests not only the process of individuals recovering from substance abuse, but also recovering, reclaiming and restoring what’s best about Alaska’s families and communities.
Through Recover Alaska, we have educated ourselves more fully about the problem and potential solutions, consulted with local and national leaders, and looked at other broad-based public health initiatives, such as the tobacco cessation movement, for lessons learned.
Utilizing the services of a consultant and the expertise of the think tank group, a plan was formulated that includes strategies at multiple levels including policy change, marketing to affect social norms, and centralized resource and referral mechanisms.
We are under no illusion that this work will be easy. Or that change will be rapid. Substance abuse is a complex and multifaceted issue that affects every part of our community. However, it is imperative for Alaska that we begin our recovery.
Do you have suggestions for how we might better face the challenges of recovery?