As overdose rates continue rising in the United States, it is clear that rates of Alaska addiction continue to rise as well. In October of 2017, a man from Anchorage was arrested and charged with trafficking 4 kilograms (roughly 40,000 individual doses) of heroin into the state of Alaska. Accounting for the average price of Alaska heroin, the products seized by police would have been worth approximately $400,000 on the street. While these numbers sound high, however, they only hint at a much larger problem. Alaska heroin addiction has taken a major toll on the state, and an even greater toll on the personal lives of those who struggle with substance use.
Alaska Heroin Addiction Statistics
Unusually high rates of heroin overdose in Alaska are nothing new, as evidenced by heroin and opioid data provided by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. From 2009 to 2015, heroin was a primary or contributing factor in 128 out of 311 illicit drug overdose deaths in Alaska. By the end of this time period, deaths resulting from heroin in Alaska increased by more than four times their starting rate.
In fact, Alaska addiction deaths due to heroin overdose have risen on a yearly basis since 2010, especially in heavily populated or developing areas. Things were particularly bad in 2012, during which Alaska recorded a 50% higher rate of heroin overdose deaths than the United States as a whole.
Heroin-related arrests also increased during this time, rising 140% from 64 arrests in 2009 to 151 arrests in 2013. As for searches and seizures, Alaskan law enforcement only seized 3 pounds of heroin in 2009. By 2013, Alaska heroin seizures rose to as many as 55 pounds. Seizures fell to less than 5 pounds by the time of the 2016 annual drug report, but arrests remained high with 155 charges filed.
Who’s Hurt by Alaska Addiction to Heroin?
Alaska addiction rates are more than numbers. Heroin users and their families suffer numerous consequences, from lost jobs to potential legal issues. Health is also a major issue, especially among those who share needles. Close to 60% of new hepatitis C transmissions each year result from needle sharing, meaning that 675 Alaska heroin users would have presumably contracted the virus in 2014 as a direct result of their addiction.
Some effects of heroin Alaska addiction hurt people entirely unrelated to the issue. Average inpatient costs for heroin poisoning were around $30,000 in 2012 after undergoing a six-fold increase over a two-year period. From 2004 to 2013, Medicaid services for the same cause rose nearly ten times over. This means that a great deal of the health care cost for Alaska heroin addiction was incurred by taxpayers, or the patients and their families in cases involving uninsured patients.
Heroin in Alaska also affects the greater opioid crisis, as 45% of Alaska heroin users eventually begin misusing prescription painkillers. This inflates prescription opioid statistics, which hurts chronic pain patients when legislators and medical professionals respond by making painkillers more difficult to acquire. With law enforcement and other first responders currently overwhelmed by high Alaska addiction rates, heroin only serves to exacerbate an already troubling issue.
Treating Heroin Addiction in Alaska
Despite the myriad problems created by heroin in Alaska, many of those who suffer remain untreated. The 2015 behavioral health barometer by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration does not publish statistics for individual substances, but it does state that approximately 88.2% of illicit drug users in Alaska were untreated from 2010 to 2014. Considering the fact that heroin is one of the most commonly abused substances in the state, it likely holds that a fair portion of this percentage stems from heroin and opioid addicts.
Alaska heroin addicts need access to quality treatment. Since heroin results in major, agonizing withdrawal, many begin treatment at a facility such as First Choice Detox where they can receive proper medical care until the worst of the symptoms have passed.
Heroin users who complete a detox program and decide to enter inpatient care at another facility will want to choose a location known for quality heroin addiction treatment, as the post-acute stages of withdrawal can persist long after the initial stages have passed. Attending a facility with a dedicated and understanding clinical staff will make the experience a lot more bearable, as they will be able to adjust the specifics of the patient’s care to reflect the severity of their symptoms.
Those struggling with an Alaska addiction and their families should not hesitate to seek help. Heroin in Alaska has caused far too many problems for far too many people, but treatment is readily available for those who seek it. Reach out today for professional assistance, and begin the healing process as soon as possible.