multiple substances people use who seek Alaska addiction treatment

Most Commonly Used Substances in Alaska

Every state differs slightly in terms of its most commonly used substances. Alcohol tends to rank highest due to its legality and ease of access. Rates of marijuana use often tell a similar story, as many perceive the drug as harmless—especially compared to some of the alternatives. As for other drugs, each state has its own trends. Alaska addiction treatment centers often find that three drugs stick out as exceedingly common among their clientele. These are:

  • Heroin
  • Meth
  • Cocaine

Due to variability in the symptoms of use, addicts who prefer each substance will differ in regard to the behaviors and thought processes associated with their addiction. For this reason, Alaska addiction treatment facilities must utilize a highly focused and individualized approach to treatment. If you or a loved one suffer from substance use disorder revolving around any of these drugs, the following should help you prepare for what your treatment experience may entail.

Heroin Addiction in Alaska

In recent years, heroin use has remained largely steady while fatality rates have increased. Nearly half of all illicit drug overdose deaths in Alaska were caused by heroin between 2009 and 2015. According to heroin and opioid data published by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, heroin-related deaths more than quadrupled during this period. Viewing these rates on a curve, one would see a peak in 2012, during which Alaska’s heroin overdose rates were 50% higher than those of the nation at large. Meanwhile, heroin-related arrests increased by 140% while health care costs increased six times over.

These figures indicate a strong need for heroin addiction treatment in Alaska. Many of the best Alaska addiction treatment centers recognize this need, although suffer from high intake rates due to the sheer volume of Alaska heroin use. This leaves many users still active, or attempting to quit cold turkey while suffering the agonizing withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate addiction. Those in dire straits must either tough it out, continue using despite the associated dangers, or look for quality out-of-state care. The last option will be discussed further down.

Meth Addiction in Alaska

State trafficking trends may account for the high rates of heroin and meth use in Alaska. Regardless of the cause, meth use in Alaska has impacted state health care in a major way. At the tail end of 2017, the problem accelerated to the point that the Department of Health and Social Services issued a health impact bulletin to address it. This report made note of the 15.7 per 100,000 citizens requiring hospitalization for meth poisoning every year.

The issue has definitely been growing, as 27.9% of meth-related deaths between 2008 and 2016 occurred solely within the last year of that period. Aside from overwhelming Alaska addiction treatment centers and other health care facilities, methamphetamine is also a major source of Alaskan crime. Many of the meth users cared for by Alaska addiction treatment programs appear under court order, while even self-motivated clients face possible legal issues down the road. Treatment centers offering world-class facilities that provide medical care in addition to case management services for those with legal issues are integral to the treatment of methamphetamine users.

Cocaine Addiction in Alaska

Anchorage is a major site for Alaskan drug use, with some of the highest meth rates in addition to high rates of crack cocaine use. Meanwhile, powder cocaine remains fairly prevalent throughout the rest of the state. According to the 2016 annual drug report by Alaska State Troopers, intravenous cocaine use is on the rise. This is a major issue, as needle sharing accounts for much of Alaska’s spread of infectious diseases. Meth users already struggle with high rates of hepatitis C, and cocaine users may soon inherit this same issue.

Most Alaskan cocaine use affects those in the 18-25 age range, with this demographic producing a user rate of more than twice that of all age groups combined. Certainly enough, Alaska addiction treatment centers receive numerous younger clients every year. Those not struggling with opioids often struggle with cocaine. This can increase the difficulty of providing quality drug addiction treatment, as many users in this age range have not suffered as many consequences as their older peers. They enjoy the lifestyle associated with cocaine use, and do not feel ready to let go of it. Pushing through this denial is the first major battle for Alaska addiction treatment personnel.

Focusing Our Treatment Approach

Despite the quality of many Alaska addiction treatment centers, the sparsity of options without long wait lists often causes those in need to seek out-of-state alternatives. This benefits them in the end, as they find the separation from their former environment helps relieve them of many triggers associated with addiction.

It also makes it more difficult to relapse once they leave treatment. Each of the illicit drugs discussed above requires connections, and it is more difficult to obtain them without knowing where to look. Those who truly wish to find drugs generally will, but the fact that they don’t have any dealers’ numbers saved in their phone will increase their wait time and make it far less likely for them to use.

Even in light of these benefits, Alaska addiction treatment requires more than removal from the home environment. Heroin users suffer from major alterations in dopamine regulation that make it more difficult to find healthy sources of pleasure. Meth users often suffer from mood swings, sometimes resulting from long-term drug abuse while other times associated with an underlying disorder that went undiagnosed for too long. Cocaine addicts encounter extreme lethargy in the early stages of treatment and can be hard to reach on a mental and emotional level.

These generalizations do not always apply, nor are they applicable only to the users of these particular substances. Nonetheless, they are things that Alaska addiction treatment centers must often keep in mind when focusing each client’s treatment plan. Aspire Health Network strives to account for these same differences when treating our Alaskan patients. Facilities such as Oceanview Detox & Residential help by offering a full continuum of care with a variety of amenities and several forms of both traditional and alternative therapy.

Seeking Alaska Addiction Treatment Without Delay

More than 88.2% of illicit substance users in Alaska went untreated between 2010 and 2014, according to the most recent SAMHSA data. The wait times to enter Alaska addiction treatment did not cause this, but they certainly did not help. Facilities such as Oceanview are readily available, offering multiple levels of care so that those addicted to the most commonly used substances in Alaska can work on the underlying causes of their addiction and forge a plan to remain sober upon their eventual return home.

If you have any questions about Oceanview, or any of the other California and Washington treatment facilities managed by Aspire Health Network, please contact us today. We can provide more information regarding the best treatment approach for your drug of choice, and which facilities are most suited to offer it.