Alaska Addiction Treatment and Info

Substance abuse and addiction are common themes all across the globe, as well as in the United States and state such as Alaska. With more than 740,000 residents, it is not exactly surprising that this state has high rates of drug and alcohol abuse.

Addiction in Alaska

In 2016, the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit run by the State Troopers of Alaska released an annual drug report showing that the state has various addiction problems affecting many of its residents.

This same document reported that most of the addicts in the state were abusing multiple substances simultaneously. However, it also showed that the substances that were most commonly abused here included marijuana, alcohol, prescription medications, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin, among many others.

For all survey years, the state has been ranked among the top 10 at the national level in terms of the rates of illicit substance abuse and dependence in the past year among people aged between 12 and 17 years. Further, the rates of past year drug use in Alaska have been higher than national rates.

From 2007 to 2008, the state was also ranked among the top 10 in the nation for various drug abuse categories, including but not limited to:

  • Cocaine use in the past year by people above the age of 12
  • Illicit drug use in the past month among people aged between 18 and 25 years
  • Illicit substance abuse in the past month by people above the age of 12

During the same period, more than 12 percent of the residents of this state reported that they had abused illicit substances like cocaine and methamphetamine in the past month. This was at a time when the total national average was set at 8 percent.

Commonly Abused Substances in Alaska

There are many substances of abuse in this state. However, research studies consistently show that the ones listed below are responsible for the highest rates of admission into drug and alcohol treatment programs in Alaska:

1. Alcohol

In 2016, the annual drug report for Alaska showed that alcohol was the most commonly abused substance in the state. The year before, this substance was accountable for more than 21 deaths among every 100,000 deaths reported in the state. It also showed that alcohol was one of the main contributing factors to the accidental deaths, suicide, and violent crimes reported in the state.

In 2010, a total of 2961 people checked into an addiction treatment program in Alaska for abusing alcohol as their primary drug. Another 2027 people received similar help for abusing alcohol with another secondary intoxicating substance.

The rates of alcohol use, abuse, and dependence have also been varying for many years - far more than the variations reported for illicit substances. For instance, residents of Alaska aged between 12 and 17 as well as those aged above 26 years reported rates of alcohol abuse that were higher than people in similar age groups on the national level.

2. Cocaine

In 2010 also, 84 people were admitted into an addiction recovery center in Alaska for abusing cocaine. Most of these people - about 73 percent - were female.

3. Amphetamines

The same year, a total of 182 received addiction help for abusing amphetamines. Of this number, 58 percent were female while the remaining 43 percent were male. More than 25 percent of this number included people between the ages of 26 and 30.

4. Methamphetamines

Although heroin and opioids continue contributing to one of the largest rates of drug overdose fatalities in the state, methamphetamines are linked to the highest rates of violent crime - which also mirror similar statistics at the national level.

According to the NDTS - the National Drug Threat Survey - for 2016, for instance, methamphetamine was linked to more than 33 percent of all violent crimes reported in the United States. The same number have been reported in Alaska.

5. Marijuana

The TEDS report - the Treatment Episode Data Set - for 2010 also reported that a total of 524 people were enrolled in a drug rehabilitation center in Alaska for abusing marijuana.

Of this number, more than 43 percent was comprised of people aged between 12 and 17 - which goes to show just how serious the marijuana abuse and addiction problem is among teens in the state.

From 2007 to 2008, the state was also ranked in the first position across the United States in terms of the rates of marijuana abuse among people above the age of 26 years.

6. Heroin and Other Opioids

All across the United States, the rates of opioid abuse - particularly linked to heroin - have been on the rise. This is the same case in Alaska. From 2009 to 2015, for instance, heroin related deaths increased by more than 4 times.

In 2016 also, of the drug overdose fatalities reported in this state, more than 74 percent were linked to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relief medications. Of this number, 38 percent were linked to heroin only.

Six years earlier, prescription opioids were responsible for 340 admissions into addiction treatment and rehabilitation centers in Alaska. Of this number, more than 36 percent were male while the remaining 64 percent were female. Additionally, more than 28 percent of these people were aged between 21 and 25 years.

Drug Related Injuries, and Fatalities in Alaska

Drug abuse was responsible for a total of 75 reported deaths in the state in 2007 alone. This is a serious problem especially considering that motor car accidents were responsible for 107 deaths while incidents involving firearms caused 120 deaths.

Addiction Prevention in Alaska

According to the McDowell Group, it is estimated that substance addiction in the state cost Alaska more than $1.2 billion in 2015. Most of these costs were linked to social services, public assistance programs, healthcare services, protective services, criminal justice costs, traffic collisions, and loss of productivity.

As with the rest of the country, public health and law enforcement officials in Alaska have been attempting to control the substance abuse and addiction problem among residents. However, most of them have been focusing on the opioid and heroin abuse issue.

The state created an opioid policy task force, for instance. The goal of this task force is to limit the rates of opioid abuse and addiction in the state. It has created the following goals:

  • Equipping first responders and other medical personnel with naloxone and other overdose reversal medications
  • Offering early intervention services as well as promoting effective opioid addiction treatment
  • Provide addiction education about the various adverse effects and risks of abusing opioids
  • Reducing the rates of opioid use disorders reported in Alaska by properly recognizing, diagnosing, and treating these addictions
  • Reversing the adverse effects of opioid drug overdose by teaching residents how to identify and resolve the various signs of such an overdose

Addiction Treatment in Alaska

A total of 6699 people enrolled in a drug and alcohol addiction treatment program in this state. Of this number, 39 percent were female while the remaining 61 percent were male residents.

The N-SSATS - the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services - for 2016, on the other hand, reported that the state had a total of 70 addiction recovery programs. This was a decreased from the 87 such programs that it had back in 2002.

To this end, it is not exactly surprising that the rates of unmet treatment needs for addicts in Alaska are among the highest across the United States - especially among people above the ages of 26 as well as those aged 12 years and older.

Although there are several addiction treatment programs available in Alaska, many people are not aware of these resources. Today, the Department of Health and Social Services - through its Division of Behavioral Health - has been improving public awareness about these programs. It has also been providing educational programs focused on the various adverse effects of substance use disorders.

The following are some of the treatment services that are available in this state:

a) Intervention Services

If you have a loved one who is addicted but is denial about their substance abuse, it might help if you used intervention services. This way, you will get a professional interventionist to help you organize a meeting where you can talk to the addict about their addiction, as well as try to convince them that the time has come for them to check into a recovery center.

b) Medical Detox

Depending on your favorite substances of abuse, you might have to go for medical detox when you get started on the recovery journey. The goal of this service is to ensure that you have round the clock medical assistance, supervision, and medications.

Detox can also help you overcome your physical dependence, as well as manage any withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings that you display over the course of your early stages of treatment.

c) Residential or Inpatient Treatment

There are two main types of drug rehabs - inpatient and outpatient drug rehab. In an inpatient treatment program, you will move into a recovery center so that you can focus on your ongoing recovery.

Inpatient drug rehab is recommended if you have a severe substance use disorder or if you have also been diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder over and above your addiction.

The time you spend in such a program will largely depend on the severity and duration of your addiction, as well as many other factors - such as your program and success in the recovery journey.

d) Outpatient Treatment

If you have already completed inpatient treatment or your addiction is not severe enough to require residential rehabilitation, you can go for outpatient drug rehab. This form of treatment is offered on an outpatient basis.

This effectively means that you only have to go to the treatment center several times each week for a couple of hours every time. As a result, you do not have to live at the facility full time.

The extra time you are away from the center could prove useful if you need to continue meeting some of your daily responsibilities at work, home, or school - as well as fulfilling your other social and professional obligations.

Addiction Therapies

Irrespective of the type of drug rehab center that you choose in Alaska, you can expect to enjoy the following services and therapies:

  • 12 step support groups
  • Addiction education
  • Aftercare programming
  • Alternative or holistic addiction treatment options, including yoga and animal therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Contingency management
  • Counseling
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Job search and placement
  • Medication assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Medication management
  • Vocational training

Getting Help

The important thing is to realize that it is difficult to overcome your substance use disorder unless you get medical help. In fact, there are some instances where you might lose your health and wellness - or even your life - if you attempt to achieve recovery without such assistance.

For instance, if you are addicted to alcohol and you attempt recovering on your own, there is a high risk that you may suffer adverse withdrawal symptoms. If you develop delirium tremens and do not seek medical help, you could potentially end up dying.

To this end, it is recommended that you check into an addiction treatment and rehabilitation program as soon as you realize that you have been abusing intoxicating substances more than you used to.

In such a program, you will start working your way through to the road to full recovery. Although it might take a bit of time before you are sober, the lessons that you learn along the road might prove useful in ensuring that you do not relapse once you are done with your addiction treatment.

Help for your substance use disorder - as well as for any other co-occurring medical and mental health disorders that you may also be struggling with - is just a phone call away. Get this help sooner rather than later so that you can turn your life around and start enjoying all the attractions and opportunities that Alaska has to offer.


For more information about treatment centers in Alaska, Click Here.

Cities with Drug Rehab Centers in Alaska

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