Health Watch: Recover Alaska celebrates Sobriety Awareness Month with ‘Sober Heroes’ awards

March is Sobriety Awareness Month in Alaska, and Recover Alaska has launched their Sober Heroes...
March is Sobriety Awareness Month in Alaska, and Recover Alaska has launched their Sober Heroes awards.(Recover Alaska | Recover Alaska)
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 4:54 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - March is Sobriety Awareness Month in Alaska, where the state celebrates and promotes a healthier lifestyle - and non-profit Recover Alaska has launched their Sober Heroes awards to help share stories of those who achieved sobriety.

According to Tiffany Hall, Executive Director of Recover Alaska, Alaska ranks first in the nation for alcohol related deaths per capita.

“These measures are always a little bit tricky,” Hall explained. “Some things that we know about alcohol in Alaska is that even though our rates of alcohol use disorder aren’t substantially higher than the rest of the nation’s, our outcomes are worse. Alaskans are dying at rates over twice as high as the rest of the nation.

Hall continued, “The pandemic has certainly exacerbated these issues here and in the rest of the nation. According to some early data, we saw that households that use alcohol had increased their drinking by about 30% due to stress from the pandemic, and we just saw a new study released that said the mortality rate - the rate of folks dying from alcohol related diseases - increased 25% in the year 2020. It has been on the incline over the past decade or so, but usually by a rate of about 3% per year. A 25% increase in deaths due to alcohol is astronomical, and in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, the leading cause for visitation to an emergency department was alcohol.”

Recover Alaska is an organization dedicated to providing resources to those on their journey to sobriety, and as part of Sobriety Awareness Month, the non-profit is sharing the stories of those who completed their trek to sobriety with their Sober Heroes Awards.

“We chose three individuals who are sort of living out loud about being sober and in recovery, and who are just wonderful influences to everyone around them,” Hall elaborated. “Those folks are Ralph Sara, Blaze Bell, and Wes Brewington, and we’re so happy to honor them and to lift up their story.”

The goal of sharing these stories according to Hall, is to help provide role models and stories “to start detaching some of that shame and stigma that can come with seeking help. The act of seeking help and trying to make a change and take control of your life is such a wonderful and positive decision that oftentimes gets quieted away or secreted away, and people don’t want to talk about - and if you do, at least in my experience, people kind of looked at me with pity or like ‘I’m so sorry, we don’t have to talk about this.’ But for me, it was a really positive decision and a really positive action to be taking. So Recover Alaska is trying to flip the scenario on what that looks like and really encourage people to understand what sobriety can look like, understand that life can be different, and to really support and celebrate people.”

More information on Recover Alaska can be found on their website.

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