In March, Beach House Center for Recovery’s commitment to community service took its first very long flight—all the way to Anchorage, Alaska—followed by a return trip this last month.
Beach House Professional Relations Directors David Beckerman and Jennifer Stanger made the trip. Their destination: the 25th Annual Conference of the Alaska Psychiatric Association, which gathered nationally recognized leaders in treatment and recovery from across the U.S., in order to share best practices and the latest research in addiction and mental health.
Stanger and Beckerman were there to offer our help. Alaska is reportedly facing high rates of suicide and substance abuse and a severe scarcity of treatment options for those who need help—among them, Native Alaskans. (The theme of the March conference was aptly coined “Suicide, Substance Use and Psychotherapy.”)
Alaska’s Suicide and Substance Abuse Crisis – How Beach House Is Responding
Stanger described how Native Alaskans have disproportionately suffered from the state’s addiction and mental health crisis, which is hitting populations in more rural parts of Alaska especially hard.
“These are areas that are super rural where the only access is by plane. We’re going to do as much as we can to reach these areas with greater access to treatment,” Stanger said.
That is one reason she and Beckerman returned to Alaska in May to attend a drug and alcohol conference where Native Alaskans and other stakeholders from Alaska’s treatment and recovery community will be in attendance, (many of them from rural areas, not just Anchorage). In addition to deepening and solidifying ties that were forged at the March conference, Beckerman and Stanger will be connecting more intentionally this time with representatives from Native Alaskan tribes, in order to learn more about their treatment needs and how Beach House can help.
“The bottom line is that Florida has lots of private beds available,” Beckerman said. “In Alaska, even people who have insurance don’t have access to treatment, whereas we can get them in immediately.”
How Beach House Is Closing Alaska’s Addiction Treatment Gap
Already, Beach House has been able to help five clients from Alaska, who took the roughly eight-hour flight to our facility because they were unable to find adequate substance abuse care in their home state.
Stanger pointed out another way that Beach House’s service in a far-flung corner of our country is helping to close our country’s treatment gap. Because of the shortage of private treatment beds in Alaska, “a person with insurance is in the same facility as the person who has no insurance,” and “there are not enough beds for people needing detox and substance abuse treatment to begin with.” By expanding treatment options for Alaskans with health insurance, then, Beach House is helping to free up those state-run treatment beds for the most vulnerable, uninsured patients while giving people with private insurance better access to quality care.
“It’s important to recognize that not every region of the country has the same access to quality treatment that we do in South Florida, and we want to reach as many people as possible,” Beckerman said.
Getting there will take time and cross-cultural sensitivity. Stanger, for whom the March trip marked her first visit to Alaska, recounted half-jokingly how when she was there she learned the colloquial expression, “the lower 48,” Alaskan lingo for “the rest of America.”
To learn more about how Beach House is helping to close the addiction treatment gap in Alaska, contact David Beckerman, at 561-815-2828, or Jennifer Stanger, at 561.632.4014.
If you live in Alaska and are considering treatment for a drug or alcohol problem, contact us today. One of our admission counselors will be happy to help you.