Researchers: 87 ways to fight Alaska's biggest health problems

An “anticraving” drug designed to reduce an alcoholic’s urge to drink. Ten-minute bursts of organized exercise to help kids re-focus on school work. A computer simulation that shows what it’s like to argue with a struggling spouse home from war. 

Those ideas are among 87 strategies that a team of researchers have flagged as potential solutions to Alaska’s biggest public health concerns. The project, called Healthy Alaskans 2020, is a joint effort by the state Health Department and the Native Tribal Health Consortium.

After identifying the top 25 health concerns in Alaska this fall, the group has identified examples of “evidence-based strategies” that might be used to combat each problem. Read the full list here.

The tools for fighting binge drinking and alcohol-fueled deaths are among the most specific. They include:

-- A three to six-month program that combines therapy with the anti-alcohol drug Naltrexone. 

-- Higher alcohol taxes. 

-- Banning alcohol sales on certain days, such as Sundays.

-- Reducing the number of bars and liquor stores in a community.

Naltrexone and a related drug have been used for years in Alaska, sometimes in conjunction with therapeutic court, said Melinda Freemon, director of supportive housing for social service provider RuralCAP. 

“They’re considered best practice and they help with reducing relapse,” she said.