Anchorage, KTUU Beginning next week, a drug that counteracts the effect of an opioid overdose will be widely available in Alaska, including access by first responders and the general public.
“We equip first responders meaning law enforcement, EMS but also the general public which is really important,” said Department of Health and Social Services Section Chief Andy Jones who is working to roll out “Project H.O.P.E.”
H.O.P.E. stands for harm reduction overdose prevention and education. The Drug Enforcement Agency says 30 people died from heroin or synthetic opioid overdoses in Alaska between January 1st and September 15th in Alaska. Some Alaska communities say use of heroin has risen to epidemic levels.
Because of changes to state law as part of Senate Bill 23 passed in 2016, the drug Naloxone is now available to pharmacies to sell and to the public with a little training. “What it really does is gives you that second chance. You know if you overdose it gives you that second chance to where you can get in potentially to the system and get the help that’s needed,” said Jones. DHSS begins taking applications on its website next week.
It has 1,600 kits available with the first 50 going the Anchorage Fire Department on Monday. The project is funded with a $4.5 million federal grant that is expected to provide supplies for seven years.