Remembrance and Recovery event shines light on addiction, encourages solutions

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 6:03 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska is experiencing a large jump in drug overdoses. Earlier this year the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services released a health alert that heroin overdoses were surging.

That’s on top of earlier data that showed Alaska had the highest number of drug overdose deaths in 2020, compared to the past five years.

The statistics are heartbreaking, even more so for people who have lost loved ones.

“I mean, these are our children, our family members, our neighbors. And they’re not statistics, they’re people that we loved,” said Karen Malcolm-Smith, who lost her 25-year-old son Dylan to a heroin overdose in 2017.

Dylan’s name is on a white cross, one of many set up Monday evening at Wasilla Lake Park as part of a Remembrance and Recovery via Prevention event sponsored by the Mat-Su Opioid Task Force. The two-day event will feature a reading of the names of those who have died from addiction, which began at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Task Force Chairman Michael Carson said the second day, Wednesday, will feature nearly two dozen vendors who offer recovery and treatment services as well as programs for youth.

“Half of those vendors will be treatment vendors, True North Recovery, Set Free Alaska, Mat-Su Health Services,” Carson said. “But then the other half are going to be youth programs, Alaska Military Youth Academy, we also have Volunteers of America coming.”

Carson said Wednesday’s event will run from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., including a keynote speech by Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, starting at 5 p.m.

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