Alaska Drug Rehab

Alaska Drug Rehab
Alaska Drug Rehab

Contact Alaska Drug Rehab For Help

Alaska Drug Rehab is very important. In Alaska alone, in 2005 there were an estimated 39,000 individuals who were either abusing alcohol or who were dependent on alcohol. Also in Alaska, in 2005 there were 18,000 individuals who were either abusing, dependent upon, or addicted to illicit drugs. The need for Alaska drug rehab is on the rise. Studies have shown that in 2005 there were an estimated 37,000 individuals who needed treatment for their alcohol abuse or dependency and did not receive it. There was also an estimated 18,000 individuals in Alaska in 2005 that needed treatment for their abuse, dependence, or addiction to illicit drugs who did not receive treatment. Drug and alcohol abuse, drug trafficking, and the need for effective drug rehabs are all things that Alaska expects to see an increase in the next few years.

Alaska and Addiction Issues

Alaska conceals a dark secret beneath its breathtaking natural beauty and relatively low population, enjoying the dubious distinction of having the highest per capita drug abuse rate in the nation. There are a number of factors that contribute to this: the long, dark, cold winters, isolation, and low income. The state of Alaska is clearly interested in combating the spread of substance abuse among its population and reducing the alarmingly high statistics on drug use. To this end, Alaska’s public health and law enforcement sectors work closely with federal agencies to monitor, track, and control the influx of drugs into the state.

What Drugs Are Alaskans Using?

According to a 2012 report from the Alaska State Troopers in conjunction with the Alaska Bureau of Investigations’ Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit (SDEU)*, the prime substances Alaskans abuse include:

  • alcohol
  • cocaine
  • heroin
  • marijuana
  • methamphetamines
  • prescription drugs

Note: All seizure and arrest statistics included herein are drawn from this report and include only seizures and arrests made by SDEU. Click here for the full report, which includes DEA and local law enforcement data for the same periods.

Heroin and opiates appear to be the drug of choice on tribal lands, while alcohol and marijuana use is heavily preferred in Western Alaska. Despite the low population, the Department of Health and Social Services reports that the economic impact of alcohol and drug abuse for 2010 reached roughly $1.2 billion, a number state officials view with a significant amount of alarm.

Alcohol

Alcohol is by far the most abused drug in Alaska, and according to SDEU, also the most lucrative to deal based on a dollar-for-dollar comparison between cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol. Where cocaine’s rate of return is only $1.50 per dollar invested and marijuana $4.00, alcohol purchased legally in a major city for $10 offers a return to bootleggers of roughly $150, especially on tribal lands and in other remote areas. These numbers clearly illustrate alcohol’s desirability and profitability for illicit dealers. The SDEU reports the following statistics for alcohol seizures and arrests statewide:

  • 2010: 774.02 gallons seized, 364 arrests on related charges
  • 2011: 682.87 gallons seized, 392 arrests on related charges
  • 2012: 473 gallons seized, 284 arrests on related charges

Despite the apparent reduction in numbers, indicating that interdiction and prevention initiatives are enjoying some measure of success, authorities are still highly concerned about alcohol abuse in Alaska. There is also fear that the reduction in numbers for alcohol abuse signal a shift away from alcohol toward more illicit drugs.

Cocaine

Cocaine is surprisingly ubiquitous throughout the state and is readily available just about anywhere, but tends to be particularly concentrated in the major urban areas of the West Coast. It is available in both powder and freebase forms. Kilograms of cocaine primarily enter the state via smuggling on commercial jetliners and through commercial shippers such as UPS and FedEx, or even the post office. These “wholesale” quantities are then broken down by retailers for street-level sale. SDEU reports the following statistics for seizures and arrests for cocaine:

  • 2010: 22.16 pounds seized, 145 arrests on related charges
  • 2011: 37.12 pounds seized, 108 arrests on related charges
  • 2012: 56 pounds seized, 74 arrests on related charges

Thus, unlike alcohol, the apparent popularity, and visibility of cocaine appears to be increasing in the state, making this drug a major public health and safety concern.

Heroin

Heroin use occurs nearly everywhere in Alaska, and arrests for attempted sale or possession of heroin are found in both smaller communities and major urban areas. Because of its depressive and anesthetic properties, heroin is a popular drug across social and economic lines. SDEU reports the following seizure and arrest statistics:

  • 2010: 4.64 pounds seized, 84 arrests on related charges
  • 2011: 6.41 pounds seized, 118 arrests on related charges
  • 2012: 4.93 pounds seized, 146 arrests on related charges

From these statistics, it is clear that heroin, like cocaine, is only increasing in popularity throughout Alaska.

Marijuana

According to the 2011 Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey, roughly 1/5 of all Alaskan high school students report having used marijuana in the previous 30 days. Because of marijuana’s status as a potential gateway drug to harder and more readily abused substances, the state is naturally concerned about its spread. In addition, Alaskan marijuana tends to be more potent than many other strains, making it a popular export crop, although the SDEU report says there is also a high demand for marijuana smuggled in from British Columbia, Canada. The statistics cited by the SDEU for marijuana are as follows:

  • 2010: 316.07 pounds seized, 1,040 arrests on related charges, 75 grows eradicated, 3,822 plants seized
  • 2011: 260.95 pounds seized, 1,211 arrests on related charges, 96 grows eradicated, 7,882 plants seized
  • 2012: 407.03 pounds seized, 817 arrests on related charges, 65 grows eradicated, 5,090 plants seized

From these numbers, we can conclude that marijuana usage in Alaska is on the rise as well. However, the reduction in eradicated growths of marijuana and seizures of plants indicates that domestically-grown marijuana is becoming less popular than that originating in the continental United States and British Columbia.

Methamphetamine

Over the past three years, methamphetamine, otherwise known as “meth,” “crank,” “crystal,” and “ice” among other names, has exploded in popularity when compared to its cousin heroin and cocaine. Methamphetamine is dangerous not only for its effects on the user but potentially hazardous or even deadly in its production. Meth labs give off hazardous and toxic fumes that frequently render the places in which such production is undertaken utterly unfit for human habitation without costly remediation to do away with contaminated material. The SDEU’s statistics on methamphetamine use are particularly frightening, speaking both to its ever-increasing popularity and the difficulties inherent in detecting a functioning lab before it becomes a productive going concern.

  • 2010: 4.53 pounds seized, 185 arrests on related charges, 11 labs seized
  • 2011: 6.20 pounds seized, 194 arrests on related charges, 8 labs seized
  • 2012: 35.19 pounds seized, 182 arrests on related charges, 3 labs seized

These statistics speak not only to the difficulty of locating meth labs before they become functional but to the sophistication and extreme lengths manufacturers go to in ensuring their labs are not detected by the general public and law enforcement. They also illustrate that meth is a serious and ever-increasing concern in Alaska because of its meteoric rise in popularity.

Prescription Drugs

No other drug or complex of drugs is so abused as the narcotics and controlled substances dispensed by doctors for the treatment and management of pain. Painkillers such as oxycontin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone are far and away the most popular targets of substance abuse, appearing in the SDEU report under their own names. In 2010, oxycodone and oxycontin represented almost double the amount of all other prescription drugs seized by themselves. This creates a very real public health issue, not merely for the users or innocent bystanders but also for those who were prescribed these drugs lawfully and use them in accordance with their physician’s instructions. The SDEU statistics on prescription drug abuse and seizures illustrate this alarming trend.

  • 2010 dosage units seized:
    • Hydrocodone: 627.5
    • Oxycontin/Oxycodone: 5,958.25
      • All others: 2,668.5
  • 2011 dosage units seized:
    • Hydrocodone: 1,051
    • Oxycontin/Oxycodone: 1,836.5
      • All others: 2,548
  • 2012 dosage units seized:
    • Hydrocodone: 141
    • Oxycontin/Oxycodone: 609
      • All others: 2,839

From these statistics, we can see that law enforcement efforts to prevent prescription drug abuse, in cooperation with community education initiatives and assistance from healthcare providers, has helped to drastically cut down on prescription drug abuse. Nevertheless, prescription drug abuse remains a serious problem in Alaska.

Who Are The Users?

According to the National Substance Abuse Index, the drug of choice varies widely by age, ethnic origin, and gender. Males lead women by nearly 2:1 in the abuse of alcohol, alcohol coupled with another drug, and marijuana. However, women lead men in the use of smoked cocaine and heroin. Methamphetamine and cocaine ingested by other means are more equal, with men leading women 52%-48% in the use of meth and women leading men by roughly 54%-46% in the use of cocaine by means other than smoking. Methamphetamine is the most popular drug overall among users 21-45 years of age, followed by alcohol and cocaine. However, smoked cocaine has a surprisingly strong presence among users 26-45 years of age, leading meth by nearly one and a half times overall.

People of Caucasian descent lead all other ethnicities in the abuse of meth, cocaine ingested by means other than smoking, marijuana, and heroin. Native Americans and Alaskan natives are more likely to prefer alcohol, alcohol with a secondary drug, or marijuana. African-Americans tend toward cocaine, smoked and otherwise. Asian, Hispanic, and “other” populations together account for roughly 2-3% of all drug users and seem to prefer heroin over other substances.

Education and income appear to play a role as well, according to the Juneau Empire, which says, “Of the estimated 16,951 Alaskan adults experiencing serious substance use disorders…42.8 percent are low-income.” Among Alaskan Native Americans, users tend to be younger, less educated, and are less likely to have a steady means of income than other demographics of users according to an abstract from a report compiled by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. These findings are consistent with sociological and epidemiological data that suggests youth, lack of education, and lack of gainful employment opportunities serve as risk factors substance abuse.

Because of these factors, coupled with a relatively high availability of access to illicit substances, it is perhaps unsurprising that Alaska ranks 29th in the nation for fatal overdose episodes, as per a 2014 report from the Trust for America’s Health. It is, however, surprising that since Alaska has the highest per capita substance abuse problem, this number is not higher. The number of drug overdoses, this report claims, has increased by about 55% since 1999, from 7.5 drug overdose fatalities per 100,000 people to 11.4 per 100,000 in 2014. Utah, at #8, has a lower per capita incidence of drug abuse but a higher death rate, while West Virginia leads the nation with 28.9 per 100,000 and North Dakota boasts the lowest fatality rate at 3.4 per 100,000.

Crime, Punishment, and Drugs In Alaska

As with other states, Alaska takes the illegal possession, sale, or consumption of narcotics and other substances very seriously. The minimum penalty for unlawfully possessing illicit substances is up to 30 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. However, drugs are also considered an aggravating factor in many crimes, such as assault, robbery, sexual assault, and vehicular infractions. A study by the University of Alaska at Anchorage concerning how law enforcement workloads are affected by drugs and alcohol notes that because of the prevalence of drugs and the number of ways in which drugs intersect with crime and deviance, it is extremely difficult to accurately assess the impact of drugs upon crime or the precise degree of causality one has to the other.

This study revealed interesting patterns concerning how law enforcement officers viewed drug- and alcohol-related offenses. In the first part, officers were asked to estimate how much time they spent dealing with such offenses. The respondents stated that alcohol and drug crimes took up more of their time than any other call, in the case of alcohol nearly 3:1 over any other type of call. Property crimes such as theft were more likely to be linked to drugs, while crimes against persons such as assault were more likely to be linked to alcohol. The second part of the study, which required the officers to keep a log of their time, revealed that drug and alcohol-related offenses took up roughly 20% of available officers’ time, but 49% of the time spent responding to incidents was devoted to drug- and alcohol-related incidents.

Alaska has the highest rates of rape and suicide in America, much of this attributable to drug and alcohol abuse. In addition, other crimes such as:

  • driving under the influence
  • robbery
  • burglary
  • assault
  • sexual assault
  • homicide (attempted or otherwise)
  • theft
  • fraud
  • prostitution

are often directly or indirectly linked to drug abuse. A report from PolicyAlmanac.org cautions that assuming a direct causal link between these offenses and drugs should be undertaken carefully because there are so many other factors that lead to the decision to engage in criminal activity. It is clear, however, that the presence of drugs or alcohol in a given situation increases the likelihood that criminal activity, especially of the violent variety, will occur greatly.

The Cost Of Drug and Alcohol Use

According to the Juneau Empire, the state of Alaska spent $217.7 million on drug abusers’ incarceration in 2010 and an additional $237.3 million on healthcare for users. This does not include private expenditures, donations, or out-of-pocket payments by users or their families. Thus the cost of drug and alcohol use and abuse merely from a financial perspective is staggering.

However, this cost is only the tip of the iceberg, and the fiscal expense is really the least important part of the cost of addiction. It is all but impossible to measure the impact of drug and alcohol use on one’s family, life, and health. The psychological and emotional toll that drug use imposes both on the user and those around the user is nearly unquantifiable, except that it can certainly be described as “severe.” In Alaska, where tradition and community play such a key role in people’s lives, the ostracism imposed by oneself or by the family or larger community as a result of one’s actions while using can be more devastating than the threat of incarceration.

The state of Alaska has taken great strides in establishing education and outreach programs to try to curb the threat of drug and alcohol abuse before it begins. The statistics listed above indicate that these programs have enjoyed some success and that education directed at the demand side of the abuse equation does work. However, it is clear that much work still lies ahead if Alaska is ever to overcome its distinction as the state with the highest rate of drug abuse.

If you or someone you know has a drug or alcohol dependency problem, you can contact the Alaska Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Alaska Council on Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, or the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services for assistance and direction to resources for users and their families.

Alaska Drug Rehabs Interested in Helping Addicts

Alaska drug rehab facilities are very interested in helping their patients to become drug or alcohol-free and to lead a drug or alcohol-free life even after their treatment. In most Alaskan drug rehab facilities the main goals they have for their patients are; an end to drug or alcohol addiction without constant relapsing, helping to return the patient’s self-esteem and self-confidence, helping the addict begin to take responsibility for their life and what they have done, find out the reasoning for the addict becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol, and give the patient a full mental and physical recovery. All of these goals are very important to the staff at most drug rehab facilities in Alaska. They feel that a patient needs to accomplish all of these goals before he or she can truly recover from their abuse, addiction, or dependency.

Alaska drug rehab facilities also try to help the family of the addict. The staff tries to help the family to understand the addiction and give the family helpful hints on how to help the addict remain drug or alcohol-free.