Methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth, is a potent and dangerous substance that ranks as one of the most widely used drugs among Alaskan sufferers of substance use disorder. Alaska meth addiction rates show that meth-related deaths have grown over the past few years, despite the fact that trends in drug trafficking appeared to be on a downswing.
Based on the numbers available, it appears that Alaska meth addiction and meth-related crime are issues that will require individual efforts to resolve. In any case, a greater understanding of meth addiction in Alaska will be needed if those who currently struggle with amphetamine misuse can be expected to recover.
Alaska Meth Addiction Statistics
The Department of Health and Social Services issued a health impact bulletin in November of 2017 to address the impact of Alaska meth addiction. For every 100,000 citizens in Alaska, 15.7 required hospitalization for amphetamine poisoning between 2015 and 2016. Rates were particularly high in Anchorage, with more than 221 patients receiving emergency medical care as a result of meth use. On top of meth addiction, Alaska health records showed that many of these patients were polydrug users who also abused alcohol, heroin or synthetic marijuana.
Alaska addiction often proves fatal, as has been the case regarding meth. From 2008 to 2016, approximately 83% of all meth-related deaths in Alaska occurred as a result of overdose. There were 233 such deaths during this period, with 65 of them (27.9%) occurring in 2016 alone. Deaths caused by Alaska meth that did not occur as a result of overdose were attributed to indirect consequences of drug use, such as heart disease and heart attack, asthma, deadly falls, exposure to dangerous temperatures, and two instances of drowning.
The Spread of Meth in Alaska
Alaska methamphetamine addiction would appear to be a diminishing issue if one were to take only a brief glance at the 2016 annual drug report, which notes that seizures of methamphetamine dropped from 31.15 pounds in 2014 to 11.98 in 2016, while arrests decreased in similar manner from 232 to 145. It is worth noting, however, that the annual drug report only includes seizures performed by the Alaska State Troopers’ Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit. Other seizures carried out by federal authorities may remain undocumented by Alaska law enforcement, complicating statistics regarding Alaska meth trafficking.
For instance, a news release by the US Attorney’s Office details a seizure performed by the United States Postal Inspection Service in October of 2017. One man in Anchorage was caught attempting to transport 10 pounds of meth (worth approximately $1 million) into the state. Alaska State Troopers were uninvolved with the investigation.
Trends in trafficking, combined with the growing number of Alaska meth users, indicate that Alaska meth addiction is a problem with high potential for ongoing growth. As increasing numbers of Alaska addiction sufferers lose their lives, they leave grieving families behind. The state is in mourning, all while attempting to foot the growing tax bill resulting from health care and law enforcement costs.
Meth addiction is especially prevalent in Native American communities, where rates of misuse can grow as high as 30% according to The National Congress of American Indians; however, all users—regardless of race—are in danger the moment they poison their bodies with this drug. Alaska meth addicts and their families need help, and they need it immediately.
Surviving Meth Addiction in Alaska
Even with growing rates of meth addiction, Alaska substance users can avert the statistics and forge a new life for themselves. For many, this will begin with entry to a medical detox facility. At Aspire Health Network’s First Choice Detox, we have learned that a comfortable setting when overcoming withdrawal symptoms can be beneficial. First, because meth withdrawal is dangerous and requires medical supervision. Second, because patients can begin focusing on their recovery as soon as their symptoms are alleviated.
Statistically, many Alaska meth users do not receive proper drug addiction treatment. Those who seek treatment are generally those who have suffered the greatest consequences, such as legal issues, financial difficulties, loss of spousal or familial relationships, job loss, etc. While meth addiction certainly leads to these outcomes, however, nobody should feel that they must descend this far down the scale before seeking help. If you or a loved one suffers from meth addiction, reach out today. It is far better to seek assistance while you are still on the fence than to wait and risk life-changing or fatal consequences.