U.S. Surgeon General visits Alaska: 'We know the opioid epidemic is local'

Published: Aug. 7, 2018 at 7:47 PM AKDT
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U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams is visiting Alaska to raise awareness and learn more from the community about the opioid crisis in Alaska.

At the 2018 Alaska Prevention Summit on the Mat-Su College campus, Dr. Adams spoke as a panelist on how to improve the health of Alaska communities.

Dr. Adams visited community partnership organizations working to fight and prevent substance abuse in Alaska.

"We know the opioid epidemic is local and the solutions are local," Adams said.

On Tuesday, Dr. Adams visited My House, a non-profit supporting homeless youth and providing resources for substance abuse.

Michelle Overstreet, the executive director of My House, said the non-profit has decreasing drug-related deaths each year since providing substance abuse support.

"It is really difficult when you are dealing with an opioid epidemic because the news is always negative," Overstreet said. "And you have to have positive things to offset that."

Dr. Adams also visited the Neonatal Abstinence Evaluation Support & Treatment (NEST) program at Alaska Regional Hospital. The program helps babies and their families recovering from substance abuse.

Neonatal nurse Nicolette Dickerohoff said the program provides additional support and education for parents who are recovering from substance abuse.

During the visit to NEST, Adams said providing a non-judgmental and educational space for families helps create a pathway for recovery.

"Stigma prevents the pregnant mother that she can come in and ask for help for her and her baby and get the help that she and the baby needs," Adams said.

On Wednesday Dr. Adams will be at Faith Lutheran Church as a panelist member addressing opioid and prescription drug abuse epidemic in the community.