Alaska struggles with rates of alcohol and drug addiction that generally exceed national averages. As a result, the state suffers from high rates of drug-related crimes and fatalities. Larger cities such as Anchorage experience the consequences of Alaska addiction more than most of the less populated areas, although the problem remains widespread enough to impact the entire state.
Furthermore, the high demand for treatment leaves many addiction treatment facilities overwhelmed and unequipped to deal with the vast number of people in need of their services. Those suffering from addiction in Alaska need treatment at a facility that understands the statewide struggle and is prepared to offer individualized programs to those in need.
Alaska Addiction Rates
Rising rates of addiction in Alaska have been a problem for many years. According to a 2015 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Alaska addiction rates have exceeded national averages since at least 2010. Thousands of Alaskans suffer from alcohol and drug use disorder, yet hardly more than 10% receive the treatment they need. This is of great concern, as Alaska’s most commonly used substances—heroin, meth and cocaine—can all prove fatal when used to excess.
In fact, Alaska has encountered new struggles with drug-related deaths in recent years. From 2010 to 2012, rates rose from 10.5 to 17 deaths per 100,000 people according to a 2016 health bulletin by the Department of Health and social services. This translates to a low of 76 deaths in 2010 with a high of 125 deaths in 2012. While this figure only rose to 128 deaths by 2016, the drugs responsible for overdose death rates shifted. Prescription drugs took fewer deaths in 2016 than in some previous years, while heroin and illicit drugs took far more.
Breaking it down further, Alaska addiction took the lives of 49 heroin users in 2016, while illicit drugs in general took 81 lives. In many cases, users died from a combination of prescription and illicit substances. While these numbers may not sound incredibly high, it is important to remember that Alaska has a fairly low population for its size. Statistically, Alaska addiction rates are among the worst in the United States. The longer addicts go without help, the worse an impact Alaska addiction will have on the state at large.
Alaska Addiction Impact
Between overdose, medical care, lost productivity and other costs, Alaska addiction racks up quite a toll. According to a 2017 economic report, the total costs of alcohol and drug addiction in Alaska come to about $3.1 billion. Very little of this goes toward Alaska treatment programs. The bulk of it goes toward legal and medical expenses. Every taxpayer not incarcerated pays about $4,000 for the consequences of Alaska addiction, with the potential for a rise in costs as overdose rates and general substance use rates continue to rise.
Approximately $269.8 million of all Alaska addiction economic costs goes toward the criminal justice system. The Alaska State Troopers’ 2016 drug report indicates that alcohol alone accounts for a large percentage of violent crimes. Alaska alcohol addiction also removes about 23.4 years from the average citizen’s life expectancy. Meanwhile, widely trafficked drugs such as meth and heroin have kept law enforcement busy with searches and seizures. Synthetic drugs such as bath salts are problematic as well, especially among homeless Alaskans. In particular, synthetic marijuana use results in large numbers of emergency calls when users become reckless or violent.
These issues affect more than Alaska’s economy. As of now, Alaska addiction rates make it nearly impossible for first responders to handle every call with appropriate immediacy. With emergency services overwhelmed by urgent calls for help and unable to handle them all, Alaska drug use has become more dangerous than ever. The best way for addicts and alcoholics to ensure their own safety is to remove themselves from the issue entirely by seeking addiction treatment before their habit becomes life-threatening.
Alaska Addiction Treatment
While the landscape of Alaska addiction seems bleak and insurmountable, those in need will find support readily available. Aspire Alaska works hard to fight back against the impact of rising addiction rates. Our dedicated staff is ready to serve addicts and alcoholics of all ages as they seek help finding happiness in addiction recovery. Through our uniquely individualized programs, you or your loved one can learn the necessary tools to achieve long-term sobriety. No matter what substances you use or co-occurring disorders you may suffer, we will help you identify and resolve all underlying issues that have fueled your addiction.
If you are ready for a new way of life, contact Aspire Alaska today. The road to long-term health and happiness begins in Anchorage. More importantly, it begins today.