Members of the state of Alaska’s Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention, or OSMAP will be in Kodiak on Thursday, Oct. 13 for a community discussion on addiction and opioid misuse.
The state has seen a surge in the number of overdoses linked to the synthetic opioid fentanyl since the pandemic. That’s the case in Kodiak, too. There was also a major drug bust just last month on the island; members of local law enforcement and the Alaska State Troopers’ Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit seized more than 11,000 fentanyl pills. The total seizure was worth $656,000, according to the troopers.
Thursday’s Community Cafe is one of several gatherings being held statewide this year to address the ongoing issue. Other Community Cafes will be held in Fairbanks, Prince of Wales, Kenai, Ketchikan, Dillingham and Juneau this fall and winter, according to OSMAP’s website. Amy Butts, a public health nurse at the Kodiak Public Health Center, said people can share their experiences, input – or just listen – during the event.
“And the feedback from these events will help the state in its efforts to revise and update the Statewide Opioid Action Plan and help it be more relevant to today’s issue and to Kodiak issues,” said Butts.
The opioid epidemic prompted Alaska’s then-governor Bill Walker to declare a public health disaster in 2017. The state’s current opioid action plan outlines measures to curb opioid misuse through this year.
Thursday’s Community Cafe in Kodiak will open with a performance by the Alutiiq Dancers and a message from the city of Kodiak’s mayor Pat Branson. Then there will be smaller breakout conversations between members of the public, officials from the state’s Department of Health and the CDC Foundation, which is a nonprofit formed by Congress to support work being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Local health providers will also be part of the conversation.
Butts encourages everyone in the community to attend.
“Having the wide range of different people is critical to developing solutions,” said Butts.
Thursday’s Community Cafe starts at 3 p.m. in the Afognak Center on Near Island. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP online, but it’s not required.