Substance Abuse Trends in Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska, is the state’s most-populated city, with an estimated 298,192 residents. Combined with neighboring Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the region is home to more than half of Alaska’s population in an area larger than Rhode Island. The city is also home to the military Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and thousands of active duty soldiers. Yet, population density in Anchorage is still low and local substance abuse tends to mirror America’s rural substance abuse trends.
The most commonly abuse substances in Anchorage are:
Since 2010, the total number of opioid-related deaths has steadily increased in Alaska. Of 129 fatal overdoses in 2016, 96 related to opioid use. Likewise, opioid-related inpatient hospitalizations have increased; 64% of cases involved opioids alone. More than any other city in the state, rates of opioid overdose death are highest in Anchorage (20.4 per 100,000 people) in 2017.
In recent years, law enforcement and addiction treatment professionals have noticed a sharp uptick in the number of people abusing illicit opioids like heroin alongside stimulants like antidepressants and meth. Many addiction sufferers mistakenly believe that taking an “upper” following depressant use (such as opioids, benzos, and alcohol) will counteract its dampening effects on the respiratory system. However, meth does not increase a person’s breathing rate but instead may cause a heart attack or stroke.
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Rising Rates of Meth Abuse in Anchorage
In 2017, Anchorage suffered its highest crime rate in over a decade. $45.3 million in goods was stolen, fueled in large part by those with Substance Use Disorders (SUD) compelled to steal to pay for drugs. Authorities in the city point to a sharp increase in meth use, which can cost up to $300 a day to sustain. In 2008, 5 people died of fatal meth overdose; by 2016, that number had reach 53 with 12 more using it at the time of death. The effects of meth abuse can be extremely damaging for the body, including weight loss, paranoia, hallucinations, violent behavior, and “meth mouth.”
Addiction Statistics for Anchorage
per 100,000 people
In 2017, Anchorage had the highest rate of opioid-overdose fatalities in Alaska, with 20.4 per 100,000 people.
In 2017, $45.3 million of goods was stolen in Anchorage, due in large part to untreated meth and heroin addictions.
32% of Alaska’s opioid overdose deaths involved alcohol and 32% involved benzodiazepines between 2010 and 2017.
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Alcohol and Drug Rehabs in Anchorage
In order to improve their communities, growing numbers of Alaskans recognize the need to halt substance abuse. At public health meetings all over the state, many residents spoke out about the need to reduce the stigma of addiction and rehab to encourage sufferers to get help. In response, Alaska’s Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention (OSMAP) distributed over 5,900 anti-overdose naloxone kits and secured $12 million in funding for SUD treatment programs.
Despite recent crime waves, rehab professionals in Anchorage report a greater availability in residential treatment beds and shorter waitlists. Short wait times for addiction treatment is especially critical to a community of people at high-risk of fatal overdose, including those who might change their mind about entering treatment if they’re forced to wait beforehand.
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Getting help for an addiction can be challenging, but it will almost certainly be life-changing. If you’re ready to retake control and need more information about drug or alcohol rehab, contact a recovery professional today.