22nd Alaska State Legislature
News from Representative Norman Rokeberg

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Anti-Alcoholism Drug Holds Promise
Judiciary Committee Considers Naltrexone's Role in Treatment

For Immediate Release: August 20, 2001
Contact: Representative Norman Rokeberg at (907) 269-0117

(ANCHORAGE) - The House Judiciary committee and other legislators attended a discussion Thursday on naltrexone, a medication showing promising results in helping address alcoholism in Alaska by chemically reducing addicts' craving for drink.

"The Legislature has been working hard to protect public health and improve public safety through innovative approaches to alcoholism," said Rep. Norman Rokeberg, (R-Anchorage) chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "Naltrexone is proving to be an effective element in combined efforts to keep alcoholics sober."

The committee heard Percy Menzies, a national expert in the pharmaceutical approach to alcoholism, explain how naltrexone has been incorporated in programs for alcoholic offenders to greatly increase the effectiveness of treatment. Naltrexone acts by reducing the sense of euphoria that ordinarily results from drinking alcohol, and has been effective in several Lower 48 anti-alcoholism programs, he said.

Judge James Wanamaker of Anchorage, whose Wellness Court has been offering alcoholic offenders naltrexone with significant success, told legislators that the drug is not cheap: about $90 per month. However, he noted that each dollar invested in alcoholism treatment saves up to $7 in costs for police, courts, jails, and hospitals. The Legislature supported the Wellness Court with a $65,000 grant this year to help participating offenders pay for the initial required medical tests, and to buy their first month's supply of the drug.

Naltrexone is likely to find expanded use following passage of House Bill 172, which creates pilot therapeutic courts in Anchorage and Bethel in which participants take naltrexone as part of a combined treatment program that also includes intense outpatient substance abuse treatment, and strict court reporting requirements.

Those attending included Reps. Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage), Con Bunde (R-Anchorage), John Coghill (R-North Pole) and Jeannette James (R-Fairbanks). Numerous other House and Senate members were also represented by staff members.

"This discussion will help us consider further legislative measures that may be needed during the coming session to address legal and treatment issues associated with alcoholic offenders," Rokeberg said.

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Related Links

Anti-Alcoholism Drug Holds Promise

Alaska Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse study
[PDF] - 26 pages - 745 K

Circle of Care Project

Drug Abuse & Alcoholism Programs Statewide

HB 80 : Legal Hours for Sale of Alcohol

HB 92 : Alcohol Sales Near Schools or Churches

HB 132 : Liquor License Applicant Check/Training

HB 152 : Brewpub Licenses

HB 153 : Restaurant Liquor Licenses

HB 172 : Therapeutic Drug and Alcohol Courts

HB 201 : Alcohol Server May Not Consume

HB 214 : Civil Action Against Minors in Bars

HB 225 : Alcoholic Beverage Tax

HB 281 : Civil Liability for Providing Alcohol

HB 330 : Providing Alcohol To Persons Under 21

SB 215 : Common Carrier Liquor License

SCR 2 : Appropriations: Sobriety Awareness Month

SCR 22 : Appropriations: Sobriety Awareness Month