Alaska is the largest and most northern of the 50 states. It is also the least densely populated and the fourth least populous state. Almost all of the population of Alaska lives in the Anchorage area of the state. It is a highly agricultural part of the country, with fishing being one of its main industries. Alaska knows its fair share of problems, with alcohol abuse being of particular concern. The native inhabitants of the area never knew alcohol throughout history, which led to them not being used to consuming it, with disastrous consequences now that it is readily available. There are now a number of Alaska drug rehab clinics, which demonstrates that the problem is becoming wide spread and that other drugs are also becoming a significant concern. Let’s take a look at some of the issues these drug rehab clinics have to deal with. This will give you a better idea of the situation in the state.
Alaska Statistics and Prescription Drugs
A huge problem in Alaska is the dependency on prescription drugs. Alaska is remote and hard to reach for the drug cartels known to smuggle heroin, cocaine, meth and other substances. This doesn’t stop them from trying, but accessing opiates and other substances can be difficult. Prescription drugs, however, are available in every corner pharmacy. Alaska drug rehab centers have noticed that addiction levels to these drugs are rising exponentially. Prescription drugs are used mainly by younger people in Alaska, which also seems to be a trend. The older generations still seem to value their traditional ways a lot more than their younger counterparts. Alaska drug rehab clinics state that prescription drugs are now the most abused product after marijuana.
In order to access prescription medication, pharmacists and medical practitioners illegally prescribe the drugs. There are also quite a number of addicts who have become an expert in forging a prescription pad. Just like anywhere else in the country, pharmacies are also often robbed, as are hospitals and nursing homes. Lastly, Alaska drug rehab clinics note that drugs also come through the internet. The most abuses prescription drugs include hydrocodone or oxycodone based painkillers, as well as anabolic steroids.
A Struggle to Get Statistics
Alaska is one of the states in our country, but it seems little effort has been made to collect data on drug abuse. Alaska drug rehab clinics have noted that Alaska is the only state that does not compile annual reports on drug abuse. Other states find drug rehab clinics, law enforcement and medical professionals work together to compile these reports, but this is strangely lacking in Alaska. The last time drug rehab clinics reported on these statistics was in 2003, since when the situation has probably changed a great deal. In that year, 4,006 people sought treatment at an Alaska drug rehab clinic. This was in relation to alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription drugs. Alcohol was the main problem as reported in 2003. In fact, 3,200 of the 4,006 came for alcohol related problems. Some of these did also use a secondary drug. Some 363 people went to drug rehab to be treated for the abuse of marijuana. From these, 54% (196 patients) were under the age of 17.
Alcohol Abuse and Native Alaskans
In Native American communities across the country, alcohol has proven to be a significant problem. The Alaskan Natives have been hit particularly hard by this problem. Drug rehab clinics note that Native Alaskans have 3.5 times more instances of babies being born with fetal alcohol syndrome as non-Native Alaskans. This number is seven times the national average. Furthermore, 40% of all suicides in the state are Native Alaskans, but only 16% of the population is Native Alaskan. Drug rehab clinics also note that in 70% of all suicide cases (Native and non-Native), alcohol is a leading problem. Alcohol is also involved in 85% of all Native Alaskan domestic violence reports, as well as in 80% of all sexual assaults. Between 1993 and 2002, alcohol abuse was the 4th main cause of death in the state.
The possession and sale of alcohol is banned in communities in Alaska. This leads to the price being incredibly inflated, which in turn opens up the market for people who want to make some money quickly. For instance, in Anchorage, a bottle of spirits would cost around $12, but this would sell for over $300 in an Alaskan Native community that is officially dry.
Alaska Drug Rehab Clinics Struggle with Remote Communities
A particular problem for drug rehabilitation is the fact that the state is so incredibly remote. There are often hundreds of miles of lakes, forests and glaciers separating the different communities. Alaska drug rehab centers are located in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, which means they are hard to access for the Alaskan Native communities that work on the oil, mining and drilling industry. Alaska drug rehab clinics understand that the treatment of drug abuse or alcohol abuse must be holistic. This means that the body has to be healed through medical treatment, but that addicts also have to learn how to be free from drugs in their day to day lives. Very often, drug abuse has ruined the lives of people, being outcast by their families and communities. This means that the task of a drug rehab center is to completely rebuild a life.
Generally, treatment at centers will start with a detox process. Then, an Alaska drug rehab center will provide intensive counseling, as well as training in life skills. Addicts are encourage to take stock of their lives, seeing how they can also live in an enjoyable and productive manner. Programs offered in Alaska are often long term, to help people move forward individually, free from drugs. Funding needs to be made available to enable drug rehabilitation programs to have a greater reach in the remote communities, because this is where the drug problems are most prevalent. It is hoped, however, that with government and community support, important strides can be made.