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Diocese and local leaders secure life-saving treatment in Alaska

Witnessing the vast struggle of alcoholism and substance abuse in our area, we reached out to our community leaders to help our brothers and sisters in need. As a member of AFACT (Anchorage Faith and Action Congregations Together—a CCHD-funded organization) our archdiocesan Catholic Native Ministries joined with First Covenant Church, who organized a town hall meeting to listen to the community on this issue. Together we researched the barriers our families were facing and found that many couldn’t access professional help at detox clinics. A lack of funding for these clinics and misinterpretations of admittance regulations had caused a 20-30% occupancy rate loss. We met, prayed together, and worked to educate state and local government officials. We established new relationships with local and state authorities, built community, and empowered our local leaders to raise their voices. We created a task force that included a representative of the Department of Health from Anchorage, the State Director of the Department of Behavioral Health and a representative from the Mat-Su Health Foundation. As a result of this work, our detox clinics now have 100% occupancy rates, and funding for the construction of a new detox clinic has been approved; a new facility is expected in 2018. Many families will be restored and lives will be saved due to wider access to professional treatment for alcohol and substance abuse.