They’re lifesaving kits that can stop a heroin overdose in it’s tracks. The federal government is paying for thousands of them to come to Alaska and some of the first have been distributed in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
A $4.2 million grant is helping the Alaska Department of Heath and Social Services (DHSS) pay for a total of 6,000 kits to be distributed state-wide. The kits will help address what Gov. Bill Walker has declared an opioid public health crisis.
The kits contain Narcan, a drug administered as a nasal spray that can revive someone who has overdosed on heroin or other opioids. In February, volunteers met at MyHouse, a drop-in shelter for at-risk youth in Wasilla. They assembled 1,600 kits, and on Thursday, the first of those kits were delivered to people who had requested them.
Karl Soderstrom and Kerby Kraus are behind the effort to get the lifesaving kits into Mat-Su communities. The former addicts have a Facebook page called Fiend 2 Clean, which focuses on recovery. On Thursday, they were distributing kits at a transitional living home called Knik House, where many of the residents struggle with drug addiction.
Soderstrom gave a short demonstration on how to use the kits, but also cautioned residents that the lifesaving drug inside has limited effects and they would still need to call 911. He told the crowd they shouldn’t be afraid to contact authorities.
“They’re not arresting people, they aren’t getting people in trouble when they’re responding to overdoses,” Soderstrom emphasized. “It’s important for our community to know that.”
Soderstrom and Kraus are determined to help people with addictions and get more of the lifesaving kits into the community. People interested in a kit can call them at 907-982-HOPE (4673).
Questions can also be emailed to Project Hope, a DHSS program.