Fairbanks Alcohol Addiction Program Helps the Homeless

Fairbanks Alcohol Addiction Program Helps the Homeless

An alcohol addiction program in Fairbanks, Alaska hosted an event this week to donate food and clothing to the homeless people of the Interior Region.

The event was hosted by the Fairbanks Wellness Court (FWC) as a celebration of recovery. There were approximately 30 people who attended the event, a 5-kilometer walk. It was held at the Golden Heart Plaza in Downtown Fairbanks on Sunday.

Those who participated in the community event helped feed and distribute groceries to the homeless. Numerous guest speakers shared stories of alcohol abuse and sobriety with the crowd.  

This is the second consecutive year that the event was held during National Recovery Month. This year, FWC co-sponsored the event with the Interior AIDS Association. The event was also part of a fundraising effort. Proceeds would go toward FWC and the Interior AIDS Association’s medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

FWC is a jail diversion program that assists felony DUI offenders who are attempting to overcome alcohol addiction. Those who successfully complete the program may have their sentences or fines reduced.

FWC uses a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) method in which everyone involved works together to endorse safety while also assisting the offender. The MDT includes a project coordinator, District Attorney representative, an Alaska’s Alcohol Safety Program probation officer, the prosecution and defense teams, substance abuse treatment providers, and other individuals that have been approved by the judge in the case.

The alcohol addiction program is tailored to adults who have committed an alcohol-related offense or are charged with a DUI in the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Alaska.

The program lasts between 18 and 24 months and offers a four month application window following the offense.

An offender can gain access to the alcohol addiction program through their attorney who would then contact the FWC project coordinator. Defendants have to complete a substance abuse questionnaire to determine eligibility for the alcohol addiction recovery program and have an interview with an FWC probation officer.

Prior to admission, the defendant’s lawyer and a district attorney representative would also need to settle a Criminal Rule 11 Plea Agreement.

When offenders are enlisted in the alcohol addiction program, they are obliged to go to intensive outpatient addiction treatment and alcoholics’ anonymous meetings. They are also required to see an FWC judge to ensure they comply with the terms of their sentencing and undergo consistent drug and alcohol testing.

According to the Alaska Vital Statistics 2016 Annual Report, there were 182 alcohol-related deaths in Alaska in 2016. Since 2007, the average rate of deaths associated with alcohol rose 16 percent.

A report published by the Department of Health and Social Services and the Division of Public Health detailed a demographic estimate of addiction treatment center admissions related to alcohol. The report revealed that from 2015 to 2017 5,515 people were admitted into an alcohol addiction treatment program in the state. A total of 1,315 of them were admitted into detox services and 706 into inpatient addiction treatment programs.