Cook Inlet Tribal Council gets $1M to fight opioid abuse in Mat-Su
The Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) is getting more than $1 million from the Mat-Su Health Foundation to combat opioid abuse in the Mat-Su Valley.
CITC is working with the Knik Tribe and Chickaloon Traditional Council to launch its three-year expansion of services that include pre-treatment, outpatient and peer support.
Staff at MyHouse—a non-profit in Wasilla that works with homeless teens—say the money is desperately needed.
Many have had opioid abuse impact their lives in one way or another.
“Oh yeah, it tears my heart out,” said Sonny Parker.
He’s the assistant manager of the Gathering Grounds coffee shop. Parker said his mother was addicted to painkillers throughout his childhood.
“It grew into a heroin-based addiction with my uncle. So, my mom, my mom's brother. Then my brother Matt started doing heroin with my mom,” Parker said.
Administrative assistant Brandi Kinney’s best friend and her child’s father both struggle with addition too.
“My child gets to grow up without a father which is really unfortunate because she's a great child. So it's an unfortunate repercussion for her,” Kinney said.
MyHouse executive director Michelle Overstreet said these stories are all too common around Alaska.
“This generation of youth will be the generation that grieves because so many of them have lost parents and siblings and people they love in their life, their friends,” Overstreet said.
To combat the problem, MyHouse started the Mat-Su Opioid Task Force. It also has a peer counselor from CITC on site to help people who are struggling.
Overstreet said those resources are great, but there’s still a bigger need for detox beds. She said it’s a three-week wait at the earliest to get clients into treatment.
“If you've ever worked with someone who has an addiction when they say, ‘I'm ready to go to treatment’ they need to be able to get to treatment immediately. Those wait times are killing people, literally,” Overstreet said.
The staff hopes the grant money going to CITC will help make up for some of the program holes in the Valley because there are so many people in need of help.
The Mat-Su Health Foundation also gave a $168,000 grant to Burchell High School to start an opioid abuse prevention program and $350,000 to the City of Wasilla for a Wasilla police officer and Palmer police officer to join the local Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force.