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Recent statistics and trends show that much like other US states, Alaska has seen an alarming rise in prescription drug abuse over the past decade with prescription opioids being the main culprit. Even with the introduction of the Alaska Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which was enacted with the intention of limiting the use of controlled prescriptions in the state, prescription drugs remain readily accessible due to the street sale of prescribed medications and the ongoing need for these drugs among patients which makes them easily accessible to virtually anyone. Yet opiate abuse in general is a serious problem, with the most alarming trends in recent years indicating a marked increase in heroin use as well. Urban areas have been hardest hit by these trends, but the problem impacts outer-lying areas of the state as well.
Alaska's remote location doesn't deter for enterprising drug traffickers, who use this to their advantage to profit from it. Because it is more difficult for them to transport and sell drugs in the state because of its unique geography, prices are hiked and drug prices are significantly higher in price than they are in the lower 48 states. These include crack cocaine, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana. Methamphetamine in particular is a major drug problem in Alaska, and contributes to staggering crime rates in all major cities, including Anchorage where 817 violent crimes are committed annually per every 100,000 residents.
Alaskans in particular are impacted by high rates of alcohol use and abuse, and likewise the residents of the state are also impacted by the consequences of this. Alcohol-induced deaths in Alaska for example are three times higher than the national average. The toll that alcohol abuse takes on Alaska residents also impacts the innocent, and sadly the fetal alcohol syndrome rate in the state is seven times higher than the national rate. The problem is reflected in the legal consequences of the alcohol use in Alaska, with statistics showing that alcohol is responsible for 85% of domestic violence and 80% of sexual assaults in Alaska Native communities. Although the possession and sale of alcohol is prohibited in these communities, the inflated prices of alcohol results in even more unethical practices to even obtain alcohol in the first place. Some reports cite that a $10 bottle of hard liquor can be sold for up to $200 or even $300 in Native areas.
If Alaskans don't get help for a drug or alcohol problem, statistics reflect that the outcomes are devastating to residents, and in 2013 the rate of drug overdose deaths in Alaska increased by 55% since 1999. Although there seems to be limited resources for residents in need of rehab, there are options available and many of them are even accessible through state funding, particularly for the Alaska Native population. Optimally, Alaskans in need of drug or alcohol treatment can access a quality 90-day treatment programs which provides comprehensive services, including medical support throughout the detoxification process, and ongoing therapy and assistance in developing essential life planning skills. There are several programs such as this available in the state, which are long-term programs and nationwide these types of programs are considered the best solutions for those with long-term alcohol or substances abuse issues. If someone is unable to access such a program because of financial difficulties or what have you, there are a number of affordable and accessible outpatient and short-term treatment facilities available to Alaska residents who are dealing with drug or alcohol addiction and have no other options.