Tlingit & Haida forms committee to address local opioid addiction

With an eye on fighting the opioid epidemic on a local level, Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) has formed an Addiction Action Committee.

The committee, comprised of 19 CCTHITA delegates, will focus on easing access to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services, according to a press release. The committee will also examine ways to address public safety problems that stem from addiction, the release states.

Jackie Pata, one of CCTHITA’s vice presidents, will serve as the chair of the committee. She is also the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, the nation’s oldest and largest American Indian and Alaska Native advocacy organization.

CCTHITA President Richard Peterson said in the release that working together with local and statewide agencies will be an important part of this process.

“We need to build collaborative relationships with municipal, state and federal governments, as well as medical providers and other institutions,” Peterson said in the release. “This is no longer their problem — it’s our problem collectively and it is collectively that we will solve this issue.”

Statistics provided by the Department of Health and Social Services at a Tuesday meeting showed that heroin deaths in Alaska quadrupled from 2009 to 2016. According to a report from the Alaska Opioid Policy Task Force in 2017, the rate of heroin poisoning resulting in hospital admissions doubled from 2008 to 2012.

CCTHITA is a tribal government headquartered in Juneau, representing more than 30,000 Tlingit and Haida worldwide.

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