Alaska's geography as an entry port along the U.S. border, shared territorial boundary with Canada, and international waters with Russia naturally position it as a high point of access in the flow of illegal drug trafficking.

Drug addiction rates tend to be higher in Alaska compared to other states. Long, harsh Artic winters create a climate that causes many Alaskan residents to stay indoors for nearly half of the year. Combined with the cold weather of Alaska, this provides the necessary conditions to induce an environment fertile for alcoholism and drug addiction.

Effects Of Addiction On Society

The Alaskan government recognizes that addiction is an extremely serious problem. Addictions can result in fatal overdoses, and addicts often experience many health problems like memory loss and heart trouble, depending on the substance. The negative effect of addiction extends beyond the addict, because addiction also adds stress to the family unit. Those closest to the addict, usually family members, must suffer through the pain and struggles of the user. Some addictions are too strong for users to resist. Addicts may be driven into desperate measures of criminality to obtain their drug and get their fix. Addictions lead to dangerous acts of crime that foster a poor quality of life for Alaskan communities.

Trends

The availability of methamphetamine in Alaska is due to local meth labs stepping up production, combined with increasing imports of crystal meth and cocaine into Alaska from the West Coast of the United States. In recent years, seizures from ecstasy (MDMA) and other date-rape drugs saw dramatic increases in Alaska. Marijuana is by far Alaska's most widely used drug, legalized only for medical use by Alaskan voters in 1998.

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Conducted a decade later, the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported nine percent of Alaskan residents using cannabis at least once a month, while an additional four percent used other illicit drugs within the same timeframe. The survey revealed that 75 Alaskans died as a result of substance abuse or addiction during the prior year.

Statistics

Alaska has one of the highest rates of alcoholism in the nation, and its statistics for drug use put the state among the top 10 highest in the nation. Unlike 35 other states, Alaska currently has no government funded program to monitor prescription drug abuse.

Prevention Strategies

One important strategy in combating addiction on a statewide level is to identify and protect potential citizens before they become addicts. The state government of Alaska implemented the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) among a representative group of 1,634 high school students across the state.

The survey analyzes important health risks that influence mortality, particularly alcohol and drug addiction among Alaskan adolescents. The survey concluded that teenage students both in Alaska and the lower forty eight continental United States reported similar use of alcohol and other drugs. The survey revealed that 31 percent of Alaskan high school students reported episodic heavy drinking on one occasion at least once in the past thirty days.

In 2011, several Alaskan organizations received grants from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to fight addiction in Alaska. These agencies included the Anchorage Youth Development Coalition, the Mat-Su Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and the Fairbanks Alcohol and Drug Free Coalition.