Background: Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2009-2014 indicate that young adults aged 18-25 consistently have the highest percentage of non-medical use of prescription pain relievers in Alaska compared to youth aged 12-17. Estimates of past year non-medical use of prescription pain relievers among individuals aged 12 and older in Alaska are slightly higher than national estimates. Although overdose deaths from prescription opioids are decreasing, Alaska still has higher rates of overdose deaths from prescription opioids than the nation overall (7.3 vs. 5.1 per 100,000 in 2012). Less data is available about heroin use than for non-medical use of prescription opioids in Alaska. However, rates of age-adjusted heroin overdose deaths have increased steadily in Alaska from 1 death per 100,000 in 2010 to 4.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2015. The rate of overdose deaths from heroin were 1.5 times higher than the national rate.

PFS Project Description: In September 2015, SAMSHA awarded the Partnerships for Success (PFS) grant to the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Behavioral Health (DBH). The Alaska PFS grant is a five-year effort with a focus on preventing and reducing prescription opioid misuse among 12-25 years olds and heroin use among 18-25 year olds and building prevention capacity to address these issues at both the state and funded community levels. DBH provides both state-level leadership for the grant and guidance to funded community-level coalitions. Six Alaskan community coalitions received funding to implement and evaluate community-based PFS efforts in their borough. The six boroughs (five urban and one rural) together comprise approximately 81% of Alaska’s total population according to the 2014 census estimates and include:

  1. Central Peninsula General Hospital (Kenai Peninsula Borough)
  2. Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living (Fairbanks North Star Borough)
  3. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (The City and Borough of Juneau)
  4. Sitka Counseling and Prevention Services (The City and Borough of Sitka)
  5. United Way of Mat-Su (Matanuska-Susitna Borough)
  6. Volunteers of America Alaska (Municipality of Anchorage)

Role of CBHRS Evaluators: DBH contracted with the UAA Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services (CBHRS) with the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) to conduct a comprehensive process and outcome evaluation of the Alaska PFS program, report on the required SAMHSA performance measures, and coordinate with community coalitions to fulfill the national cross-site evaluation. Primary and secondary sources of data will be used by CBHRS to answer evaluation questions and address overall evaluation goals for the Alaska PFS grant effort which include:

A. Track and document all Alaska PFS activities and services.
B. Identify the impact of PFS activities and services on prescription opioid misuse among 12-25 year olds, heroin use among 18-25 year olds, and the consequences of prescription opioids misuse and heroin use.
C. Track progress and monitor fidelity to the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF).
D. Assess the impact of Alaska PFS activities on prevention capacity and infrastructure.

More information about this project, including state and community project contacts as well as completed evaluation plans and reports is available on the project website.

Evaluation Staff:
Bridget Hanson, PhD – Evaluation Director


This Project is funded through the State of Alaska Division of Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Grant # 1U79SP020783).