There's more than just one option in Alaska when it comes to getting help for prescription drug addiction. Selecting the right method and facility is essential in assuring success. But many people are unaware of the different kinds of treatment and so may choose a program based on convenience rather than effectiveness.
For example, it is not uncommon for someone struggling with prescription opioid addiction to end up in a medication-replacement program. These consist of transferring the patient's dependence onto pharmaceutical opioids instead of the illegal ones they were taking. So now, they don't get arrested as much and have a lower chance of overdose and infectious disease. But they're still dependent on opioids, and many people who participate in this model trade their replacement meds in for street drugs again once the quality of their life doesn't improve, mainly since the medications used don't produce a high but do have adverse side effects.
The most common form of treatment for prescription drug abuse in Alaska or anywhere in the United States is one that involves getting off drugs, like what traditional drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs provide. Traditional programs are usually around 28 days in length and are inpatient. Once completed, many offer continuing support in the form of outpatient treatment and support group meetings. Twelve-step based programs are examples of traditional rehabilitation. The end-goal of these programs should be to restore the individual to the drug-free condition they were once in.
Another form of treatment that is quite effective for prescription drug abuse is holistic substance abuse rehabilitation. Holistic programs use no unnecessary medication at any phase. They focus instead on health and nutrition to help restore the person and rebuild them from the effects of addiction. These programs often utilize intensive counseling also to address the underlying reasons why each individual began using drugs to cope with life. Holistic programs may take longer or be more rigorous than other forms of treatment, but they can offer the best long-term success rates.
Alaska Prescription Drug Possession Penalties
Alaska divides its controlled substances into six groups or "schedules" (IA through VIA), based on the potential for harm to the user.
- Schedule IA drugs are those considered to have the highest degree of possible danger to users.
- Schedule VIA drugs are considered to have the lowest degree of danger to users. Currently, the only VIA drug listed is marijuana.
Most prescription drugs fall into the categories between schedule IA and schedule VIA. Depending on which schedule the prescription drug falls into, possessing it illegally without a valid prescription can mean getting charged with a CDS (Controlled Dangerous Substance) crime.
Alaska classifies all CDS crimes into five degrees, misconduct in the first-degree being the most serious. CDS possession involves degrees three through six. Third and fourth-degree misconduct involving possession of CDS are felonies. Felonies are divided into unclassified, Class A, Class B, and Class C. Unclassified and Class A felonies receive the harshest sentences.
Misconduct involving CDS in the 4th degree is a Class C felony. Class C felony possession includes:
- Possession of any amount of a schedule IA or IIA CDS.
- Possession of 25 or more tablets, vials, or syringes of a schedule IIIA or IVA CDS.
- Possession of any substance or combination of substances weighing three grams or more containing schedule IIIA or IVA CDS.
- Possession of 50 or more tablets, vials, or syringes that contain a schedule VA CDS.
- Possession of any substance or combination of substances weighing six grams or more that contains schedule VA CDS.
- Possession of any substance or mixture of substances weighing four ounces or more that contains a schedule VIA CDS.
- Possession of schedule IIIA, IVA, VA, or VIA CDS occurring within 500 feet of a school, youth or recreation center or on a school bus.
The penalty for a Class C felony is imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of up to $50,000.
Possession of certain CDS within 500 feet of a school, youth, or recreation center or on a bus becomes not just 4th, but 3rd-degree possession when the drugs are in Schedule IA or IIA. Such possession is a Class B felony, whose penalties include imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
Misdemeanor crimes are less serious than felonies and are punishable by less jail time and smaller fines. Alaska provides two levels of misdemeanor punishment for some CDS possession: misconduct involving CDS in the 5th and 6th degrees. The 5th degree is the more serious of the two.
Misconduct involving CDS in the 5th degree is a Class A misdemeanor and includes:
- Possession of fewer than 25 tablets, vials, or syringes of a schedule IIIA or IVA CDS.
- Possession of any substance or combination of substances weighing less than three grams that contain schedule IIIA or IVA CDS.
- Possession of fewer than 50 tablets, vials, or syringes that contain a schedule VA CDS.
- Possession of one or more compounds, preparations, or combinations of substances weighing one ounce or more containing a schedule VA CDS.
- Possession of one or more compounds, preparations, or combinations of substances weighing one ounce or more and containing a schedule VIA CDS.
The penalty for Class A misdemeanor possession is up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Misconduct involving CDS in the 6th degree is a Class B misdemeanor and includes:
- Possession or display of any amount of a schedule VIA CDS.
- Possession of one or more compounds, preparations, or combination of substances weighing less than one ounce that contain a schedule VIA CDS.
The penalty for a Class B misdemeanor possession is up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
Like most states, Alaska imposes increasingly harsh sentences on individuals with any prior felony convictions.
One prior felony conviction:
- A second Class B felony conviction carries a penalty of four to seven years.
- A second Class C felony conviction carries a penalty of two to four years.
Two prior felony convictions:
- A third Class B felony conviction carries a penalty of six to ten years.
- A third Class C felony conviction carries a penalty of three to five years.
Alaska Prescription Drug Statistics
The current prescription drug abuse rate among adolescents was 6.4% for all Alaska adolescents and 4.1% for Alaska Native adolescents in 2015, virtually unchanged from 2011. The rate of ever abusing prescription drugs has declined from 20.9% in 2009 to 14.6% in 2015 for all Alaska adolescents.
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.
Below, you will find a list of medical detox for prescribed medication addiction in Alaska. The list may be incomplete, so if you have a hard time finding the proper service, call one of our treatment specialists at 1-800-304-2219.