Alaskans Battling Heroin Epidemic Captures Audience with U.S. Surgeon General

U.S. surgeon generalMany parents suffer greatly due to their child’s heroin addiction. Well Kim Whitaker took her story of anguish over her daughter’s continual struggle with heroin addiction straight to the U.S. Surgeon General.

Kim Whitaker told her daughter’s story and shared her pain with approximately 500 people at the Glenn Massay Theater. Her daughter had developed a heroin addiction after doctors prescribed her opiates for pain at age 19. Whitaker’s daughter has been through detox three times and lost custody of her children. Regrettably, she’s back to using again.

Whitaker also had a question for a nationally proclaimed “top doctor”, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Dr. Murthy was a key participant at a high-powered summit convened by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan that aimed at spreading awareness to federal officials about the heroin epidemic and the challenges Alaska faces to fight against it. Kim’s question is below.

“Is there going to be a unique approach to how we’re going to get help here because of our uniqueness?” Whitaker asked.

Alaska’s rural areas and lack of treatment facilities make it very challenging and potentially impossible for heroin addicts to get the treatment and recovery help they want, need and deserve. Only a few dozen detox bed and scant treatment options exist in the entire state. Despite the lower population, Alaska has not escaped the heroin epidemic unscathed – and it’s gotten worse over the last decade. Medical providers prescribing opiate painkillers has led patients seeking a similar high to the cheaper, more readily available heroin.

According to Dr. Mary Wakefield, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 78 people die daily from opioid related overdose nationally and 580 people begin using heroin. In Alaska 36 people died from heroin in 2015 and 83 from prescription opiate pain killers.

Reverend Reginald BrightReverend Reginald Bright, a veteran who uses opioid pain medication asked the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy asked during the Summit why medical marijuana was so difficult to access and why the Veterans Administration wouldn’t pay or it as treatment for pain (Loren Holmes – Alaska Dispatch News)

Since 2012, 25% fewer veterans are receiving opioid prescription medication. However, the agency reportedly still doesn’t approve of the use of medical marijuana to ease off of painkillers. William Seemiller, Founder and Publisher of Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™ and CEO of Modern Image, LLC has acquired mixed reviews on whether or not medical marijuana can actually help initiate recovery from heroin and opiates. “Some of our valiant members have reported that medical marijuana has actually helped ease them off of heroin and opiates and reduced withdrawal symptoms. Yet others admit that it’s actually worsened withdrawal and made them sick.”

Reverend Reginald Bright served in Iraq and has been taking opioids for years, although he claims he is not addicted.  he’s also successfully and effectively used cannabis oil and topical treatments for aching joints.

“it works great”, Bright said.  “The fact of the matter is, getting it is an issue.”

Dr. Vivek Murthy stated that scientific evidence does not yet exist proving that marijuana can safely and effectively treat heroin withdrawal and facilitate recovery however, the government is funding 60 trials and studies regarding marijuana’s benefits and potential harms.

Jeff JesseeJeff Jessee, CEO of Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority emphatically stated at the summit “My name is Jeff and I’m an alcoholic…I have 10 years of sobriety.  And yes, addiction can happy to any of us and we need to end the stigma today” – to which the crowd cheered.  He told federal officials at the summit that Alaska is already taking action on the heroin epidemic with a task force.  Medicaid reform and a new law that doesn’t “over-criminalize” drug use.

What will be done and how effective it is yet to be seen.  However, anything that proves effective in Alaska should be introduced and implemented in the rest of the country.


Written and Published By,

William – Publisher and Founder of Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™
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