Opioid and substance abuse presents a great challenge to Alaska and across the nation. It robs us of our youth, plagues countless adults, and inflicts anguish on our families. We must unify to seek ways to address this problem.
Recently, most of Alaska was designated as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA). While this is a somber designation, it is also a needed step toward additional assistance to law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels. Each HIDTA region is governed by its own Executive Board, which has the flexibility to design and implement initiatives specific to the unique area.
Additionally, Congress continues to focus on the issue and seeks ways to address these challenges. Omnibus legislation passed in March of 2018 and signed into law included nearly $4 billion to address this epidemic, which was the largest investment to date, and helps fulfill the President’s Opioid Initiative. This included $1 billion in grants to states and tribes, increased support for prevention and addiction, as well as more funding for drug interdiction efforts. This will remain an important topic moving forward.