Alaska Drug Use Trends
Alaska is located in the northwest extremity of the U.S., and borders Canada, the Arctic Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean and Russia is located to the west of the state across the Bering Strait. It is the largest state by area in the U.S. but the 4th least populous, and around half of the residents of Alaska reside in the Anchorage metro area. Oil & natural gas and other resources which can be extracted in the region including the fishing industry are the dominating industries in the state. The residents of Alaska face very specific drug and alcohol problems, and nine out of ten of the leading causes of death in the state are associated with substance abuse.
Alaska residents in all age groups have among the higher rates of alcohol consumption in the nation. For example, the rate of heavy drinking in Alaska is an estimated 7.7% vs. the U.S. average of 6.2%, and the Alaska rate of heavy binge drinking is 18.5% vs. 16.8%. Rates of alcohol dependent are twice as high in Alaska than national rates, and the consequences of this are grim, with the rate of alcohol induced deaths in the state being 29.4% vs. a national average of 8.8%. Nearly one-quarter of all hospitalized injury patients in Alaska have suspected or proven alcohol use injuries, and an estimated 37% of fatal crashes in Alaska are alcohol-related.
The rate of individuals using illicit drugs in the state of Alaska is also much higher in Alaska than the rest of the U.S. on average, at 12.9% vs. 9.2% respectively. According to recent surveys and studies, Alaska's current drugs of choice are alcohol, cocaine, Methamphetamine, marijuana, and prescription drugs. Methamphetamine use and manufacture and the non-medical use of prescription opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycontin/oxycodone have come to the forefront as primary drugs problems among residents and for law enforcement agencies in the state. To highlight the problem and its consequences, the rate of drug overdose deaths in Alaska has increased by 55% since 1999, the majority of which were caused by prescription drugs.
Because the substance abuse problems in Alaska are so significant, it is crucial that effective drug treatment options be made available to all residents who need it. Alaska does have quality drug rehab programs in the state which can help individuals with any type of addiction, even if they have tried drug rehab in the past and perhaps didn't make it through the program or relapsed at a later time. No one should give up, because very often this can occur if the individual wasn't in the right drug rehab program for their particular situation and level of dependency. For example, it wouldn't be ideal to put someone who was highly dependent to alcohol or prescription opiates in an outpatient programs, but individuals who are experiencing dependence to these substance need to have no access at all to them, and a complete change of environment until they know how to deal with things which trigger their substance abuse. In Alaska, there are programs which provide either an inpatient drug treatment program in a hospital or clinic, or residential drug rehab facilities where clients remain the entire time they are in treatment. These facilities typically offer either a 30-day program or a 90-120 program, with long-term treatment again being more ideal for those who are highly dependent to drugs and/or alcohol and likewise have higher success rates.
Population in Alaska:663,661
State Prison Population in Alaska:4,554
Probation Population in Alaska:5,547
Violent Crime Rate in Alaska;
2007 Federal Drug Seizures Alaska
Cocaine seized in Alaska:29.8 kgs.
Heroin seized in Alaska:2.9 kgs.
Methamphetamine seized in Alaska:1.9 kgs.
Marijuana seized in Alaska:187.7 kgs.
Hashish seized in Alaska:0.1 kgs.
MDMA seized in Alaska:0.0 kgs./309 du
Meth Lab Incidents in Alaska:0
(DEA, Alaska, and local city Law Enforcement)
Drug Situation in Alaska;
- Due to its location in relation to the rest of the United States and Canada, Alaska is a transshipment state and a consumer state for controlled substances.
- Cocaine and methamphetamine continue to be imported and available in Alaska.
- Organizations which are involved in the trafficing of drugs in Alaska also use various methods to launder their illicit proceeds.
- Various organizations are involved in trafficking cocaine into Alaska from the lower 48 states.
- Due to Alaska's remote location, organizations are able to resell cocaine for a much higher profit.
- Crack cocaine continues to be a specific threat in Alaska.
- Heroin continues to be a problem in Alaska, and is widely available.
- Mexican, Colombian and Southeast Asian heroin are being imported through various organizations into Alaska.
- In Alaska, methamphetamine that is locally produced or imported is readily available.
- Methamphetamine Lab incidents in Alaska were at zero for 2007, as compared to 66 incidents in 2004.
- Although local production may have been slowed or halted in Alaska, as can be seen by significant fall in laboratory-related incidents, methamphetamine continues to be shipped into Alaska through the parcel service.
- DTOs obtain most of the methamphetamines for sale in Alaska through other organizations or individuals in the lower states.
- DTOs which are responsible for the distribution of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana in Alaska are also obtaining small amounts of MDMA (street name Ecstasy), LSD and GHB which are known as "Club Drugs".
- Marijuana continues to be a widespread problem in Alaska.
- Marijuana is the most abused drug in Alaska.
- The use and posession of marijuana was re-criminalized in Alaska in June 2006.
- In Alaska, almost all of the marijuana available is grown through indoor growing operations.
- Marijuana grown in British Columbia, also known as "BC Bud", is readily available in the Anchorage, Alaska area.
- In 2007, there were 69 drug-violation arrests made in Alaska by the DEA, as compared to 121 arrests in 2006, and 1arrests in 2005.
- In 1995 a program was created known as the DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams, or "MET". This was in response to the overwhelming problem of drugs and drug-related crimes across the nation. Since the inception of the MET, there have been no MET deployments in the state of Alaska.