Legislature(1999 - 2000)

02/29/2000 03:46 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
SCR 12 - SOBRIETY AWARENESS MONTH                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON announced  the next  order of  business as  Senate                                                              
Concurrent Resolution No. 12, Relating  to declaring March 2000 as                                                              
Sobriety Awareness Month.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0069                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  JERRY  WARD,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  sponsor,  came                                                              
forward to present  SCR 12.  He noted in the  past the legislature                                                              
has honored  the solution which is  sobriety.  The month  of March                                                              
is sobriety month,  and this has been done for several  years.  He                                                              
hopes this  resolution will go forward  with Mike Williams  on the                                                              
Iditarod race.   Mike Williams is  one of the founders  of the AFN                                                              
[Alaska Federation of Natives] sobriety movement.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0116                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BRICE thanked  Senator  Ward for  his advocacy  on                                                              
sobriety  issues.   He wondered  if  there would  be any  conflict                                                              
since  there  was  an  earlier  resolution  designating  March  as                                                              
developmental disabilities month.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON answered that there is no limit on that.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  made  a motion  to  move  SCR 12  out  of                                                              
committee  with  individual recommendations  and  attached  fiscal                                                              
note.   There  being no  objection, SCR  12 moved  from the  House                                                              
Health, Education  and Social Services Committee.   [The testimony                                                              
of Pam Watts was heard later this same meeting.]                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SCR 12 - SOBRIETY AWARENESS MONTH                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON  returned to Senate  Concurrent Resolution  No. 12,                                                              
Relating to declaring  March 2000 as Sobriety  Awareness Month, to                                                              
add the testimony of Pam Watts.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1532                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PAM WATTS,  Director, Governor's  Advisory  Board on Alcoholism  &                                                              
Drug  Abuse (ABADA),  Office of  the  Commissioner, Department  of                                                              
Health & Social  Services, came forward to testify.   She noted it                                                              
is gratifying to recognize the increased  awareness on the part of                                                              
the  legislature of  the role  that alcohol  abuse and  dependency                                                              
play in  a wide range  of tragic  circumstances across  the state.                                                              
Alcohol is  implicated in  83 percent of  child abuse  and neglect                                                              
investigations; in 46  percent of all homicides in  the state; and                                                              
in  60 percent  in  domestic  violence   cases.    Alcohol-related                                                              
deaths  in  Alaska are  at  11.2  percent  compared to  5  percent                                                              
nationally.   The Alaskan  adult  suicide rate  is four times  the                                                              
national  average  and a  suicide  rate  nine times  the  national                                                              
average  where  alcohol is  implicated  in  many of  these  cases.                                                              
Fifty  percent  of  the emergency  room  hospital  visits  involve                                                              
alcohol;  and 77  percent of  the seriously  mentally ill  persons                                                              
incarcerated have co-occurring substance abuse disorders.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. WATTS  reported in a  recent Gallup  Poll survey it  was found                                                              
that  approximately  58,000  Alaskans   are  alcohol-dependent  or                                                              
abusers.   Over  41  percent of  the 58,000  are  dependent.   The                                                              
stretch between  abuse and  dependency is not  a large one.   That                                                              
makes  9.7  percent  of  Alaska's   population  alcohol-dependent,                                                              
compared with 4.38 percent nationally.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WATTS  further  reported  that   a  sober  lifestyle  is  not                                                              
maintained in isolation  for most alcohol-dependent  people.  It's                                                              
not just as  easy as making a  decision to quit.  They  need help.                                                              
The  investments in  children's programs  are  doomed to  marginal                                                              
outcomes  if the  substance  abuse issues  of  the parents  aren't                                                              
addressed.   Correctional  facilities  will continue  to see  high                                                              
rates of recidivism  if alcohol and drug issues  aren't addressed.                                                              
About 12.5 percent  of the adults in Alaska are  estimated to need                                                              
treatment for alcohol  dependency or abuse - 0.5  percent for drug                                                              
dependency  alone and  another 1.2  percent for  both alcohol  and                                                              
drug abuse problems.                                                                                                            
MS. WATTS  noted that the  ABADA appreciates the  recognition that                                                              
supporting  sobriety is  hard work  for  everyone, especially  the                                                              
person  who is  recovering,  and  particularly in  an  environment                                                              
where    a  lot  of messages  promote  the  opposite  of  a  sober                                                              
lifestyle.   The  ABADA  encourages the  legislature  not only  to                                                              
support Sobriety Awareness  Week, but to make sure  that access to                                                              
treatment  and aftercare  services  continue to  be available  for                                                              
people who  seek help in dealing  with this disease that  has such                                                              
devastating effects on the residents of this state.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Ms. Watts if  she knew the magnitude of fetal                                                              
alcohol poisoning in Alaska.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. WATTS indicated  there are varying figures.   At this point it                                                              
is extremely difficult to come up  with an accurate figure because                                                              
the reporting  and diagnosis  of fetal  alcohol syndrome  (FAS) is                                                              
minimal.   With  some recent  federal dollars  aimed at  providing                                                              
diagnostic teams, there will a more  accurate figure.  [SCR 12 was                                                              
moved out  of the Health,  Education and Social  Services Standing                                                              
Committee.]                                                                                                                     

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