Treatment for opioid addiction in Alaska or anywhere else in the United States is in high demand because abuse of the drug is so common. But this does not necessarily mean that it is easy to find since so many people need help. Many people have put effort into minimizing the dangers of opioid addiction rather than eliminating it. These efforts are known as "harm reduction" and serve to save lives. Needle exchanges and safe injection sites are examples of such controversial practices. But another newer form of harm reduction currently being used is Medication-Assisted Treatment or MAT. MAT has become popular for many reasons, but mainly because it allows people who are addicted to opioids to improve the quality of life and lower their risk of death without getting off of opioids. For some, this is a godsend because they have been unable or unwilling to be completely drug-free. MAT uses prescription opioids to maintain the patient's dependence and avoid experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. This reduces their risk of overdose death and infectious disease, and many no longer need to resort to crime to get their fix. But the drawbacks are obvious since they never actually address their addiction or physical dependence. They live a chemically influenced life and are stuck to the ball-and-chain of their prescription. Outside of harm reduction methods and drug rehabilitation programs. These aim to restore the individual to their former, drug-free capacity. Many of these are holistic, meaning they do not use narcotics or any unnecessary medications. They focus on health and addressing the underlying issues which cause addiction in the first place. These programs may not be as popular, but this depends on what each person's goals are. Some people don't even know that it's possible to overcome opioid addiction completely. Thankfully, it's entirely possible and happens every day.
Laws and Penalties Regarding Opioid Use in Alaska
Federally, opioids are listed in a way known as scheduling, which rates them according to their potential for abuse and usefulness medically. The more addictive and dangerous the drug is, and the less medical use there is for it, the higher it is scheduled. Schedule I drugs include heroin, a dangerous opioid with no medical use. Further down, Schedule II drugs are addictive and potentially dangerous but do have a medical use, so they are only available by prescription. This includes medications like Oxycontin. Scheduling continues down to codeine cough syrup products listed as Schedule V. No opioids are currently available in Alaska without a prescription. Penalties for possessing each type of opioid are different and depend on how the drug is scheduled and the circumstances.
Opioid Use Statistics in Alaska
- The highest number of opioid-related deaths identified in one year was 108 in 2017, of which 100 (93%) were due to overdose.
- During 2010–2017, with 623 identified opioid overdose deaths, the opioid overdose death rate increased 77% (from 7.7 per 100,000 persons in 2010 to 13.6 in 2017).
- Synthetic opioids, excluding methadone, caused 37 deaths, 37% of all 2017 opioid overdose deaths, with fentanyl contributing to 76% (28 of 37) of those deaths.
- From 2012–2017, the rate of out-of-hospital naloxone administrations by Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel more than doubled, from 8.0 to 17.7 administrations per 1,000 EMS calls in 2012 and 2017, respectively.
- The rates of opioid-related inpatient hospitalizations were 28.5 per 100,000 persons in 2016 and 26.0 per 100,000 persons in 2017, with total inpatient hospitalization charges exceeding $23 million.
- In Alaska, 60% of drug overdose deaths involved opioids in 2018, a total of 68 cases.
- In 2018, Alaska providers wrote 44.9 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons. The average U.S. rate in the same year was 51.4.
Here is a list of medical detox for opioid addiction in Alaska. The list can be incomplete, so please do not hesitate to contact one of our treatment specialists at 1-800-304-2219.