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Alcoholism, The Opioid Epidemic, Meth Addiction, Alcohol and Marijuana Laws and DUI Information

This guide will cover the biggest issues facing Alaska regarding mood and mind-altering substances. Alcoholism amongst residents and Alaskan Natives, the opioid epidemic and meth addiction. We will go over statistics, what actions are being taken to combat these issues and provide you with resources to assist you in finding help. This guide will go over alcohol laws, marijuana laws and DUI information for the state of Alaska.  If you or someone you love need help for drug abuse or alcoholism in Alaska, please visit our Alaska medical detox locator.

Alcoholism in Alaska

Alaska has had a reputation for hard drinking and the problems that come along with it for decades. The state has one of the highest rates in per capita alcohol consumption in the country. It is near twice the national average, with over 30% of adults reporting that they struggle with binge drinking or alcoholism. A plethora of crimes are linked to the widespread alcoholism. Violent crimes, suicide, drunk driving and sexual abuse all have ties to the state’s struggle with beer, wine and liquor. Alcohol abuse is nothing new to the largest state in the country since its early days drinking culture has been mirrored by efforts to lower abuse rates. Prohibition laws used to be quite prevalent in the state, they were also often ignored by government and citizens alike.

Alaskan Natives make up just 15% of the state’s total population but have disproportionately high rates of alcoholism and heavy drinking amongst US residents. A study done on the deaths of Alaskan natives produced some horrifying results; over 65% of recorded fatalities were alcohol-related. This is 9x the national average. Alcohol abuse also causes a variety of health problems among this population, including staggeringly high rates of liver cirrhosis, delirium tremens (DTs), pancreatitis and ulcers. Innocent lives are affected by the thousands every year due to the huge amounts of alcohol consumption. Fetal alcohol syndrome occurs very high among Alaskan Native Americans. Nearly 60 out of every 10,000 new births are born with fetal alcohol syndrome, this is almost 5x the national average.

Finding a Solution

Alcohol use and abuse have adversely affected various aspects the Alaskan Native community. Alcohol abuse can be directly linked to an increase in the number of people who are homeless, child and elder neglect and individuals with disability needs. All of these factors affect both village communities and raise the cost of living for all residents living in Alaska. Some groups throughout the state have made it their goal to create community solutions to help offset this widespread issues. Hoping to find a resolution to this detrimental health, social and economic problem sweeping through the state. The Alaska Federation of Natives began a “sobriety movement” which is a grassroots campaign designed to promote sobriety while maintaining traditional values and lifestyles.

To increase chances of long-term success local groups have gotten together and drawn support from their communities. Recover Alaska in an action group seeking out a solutions-based approach to fighting the excessive amount of alcohol consumption in the state by finding its root causes. They are partnering with organizations and individuals who are dedicated to reducing the harm that is associated with alcohol abuse as well as connecting those struggling who are looking for the help they need. They hope to reduce the stigma that is associated with alcohol abuse as well as raise awareness regarding the negative impact that alcohol has had on towns and communities throughout the state.

Meth Addiction & The Opioid Epidemic

Alaska is among the top states in illicit drug use and abuse. Heroin, prescription drugs cocaine and marijuana all impact this great state’s population, but methamphetamine has proven to be one of the most destructive and widely used substances among Alaska’s residents. Meth is readily available throughout the state and is blamed for over 250 deaths since 2008, unlike opioids there is no way to reverse an overdose. Meth has not left the state, in fact, it has made quite the resurgence over the past ten years. Use is up nearly four-fold from 2008-2010 to 2014-2016.

"New laws were passed in 2006 by the federal government that restricted sales"

Meth is an illegal, stronger version of prescription amphetamines like Adderall and Ritalin. This dangerous drug can be manufactured by home chemists and became popular throughout the state in the early 2000’s. New laws were passed in 2006 by the federal government that restricted sales of some key ingredients found in over the counter medications. This worked extremely well, for a little while.

Manufactures of this dangerous drug began importing meth from Mexico in massive quantities. While the number of at-home meth labs decreased the amount of meth throughout the state rose. Mike Root, a DEA officer said "It used to be if you had a pound of meth – that was a big seizure for Alaska. Now we are seeing, hate to say, 5 pounds and 10 pounds. We're seeing larger and larger quantities, which obviously means there is more out there."

"We're seeing larger and larger quantities, which obviously means there is more out there."

The Meth Education Project was founded in 2005 by the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation in response to the growing meth epidemic throughout the state. It is a large-scale prevention program aimed at lowering meth use through public service messaging, public police and a strong community outreach. It is a research-based marketing campaign that uses community action programs and in school lessons designed to educate the public about meth abuse.

Prescription Pills have become a huge problem throughout the state of Alaska, with a massive surge in use and addiction over the past 15 years. The increased availability of opioid-based medications remains a high-priority concern for law enforcement officials. As heroin and opiate abuse sweeps across the state a path of destruction is left behind. Research shows that 75% of heroin users started their addiction through the use of prescription medication. Someone who abuses prescription pain medication is 40x more likely to develop a heroin addiction.

"Prescription drugs have been linked to thousands of crimes"

Prescription drugs have been linked to thousands of crimes including; homicide, assault, fraud, home-invasions, robbery, theft and breaking and entering. The economic costs of drug abuse in Alaska is in the billions of dollars each year. Costs to society are substantial as funding goes to health care costs, increased criminal justice system costs, lost and reduced workplace productivity and much more.

Prescription pills abuse costs the state more than just money. Prescription drug cases place an additional burden on the time and resources of the criminal justice system, and that burden is growing. The Alaska State Troopers 2014 Annual Report marks a rise in the abuse of opiates, both heroin and prescription opioids. From 2012 to 2014, the pounds of heroin seized rose from 4.93 to 22.42. Likewise, the dosage units of hydrocodone seized rose from 141 to 796 and of OxyContin/OxyCodone from 609 to 1,183.

"The Alaska State Troopers 2014 Annual Report marks a rise in the abuse of opiates, both heroin and prescription opioids."

It is very easy to become physically and mentally addicted to these dangerous pills. Communities are working together to spread awareness and make getting help easier for those who are struggling.

Alaska Drug and Alcohol Resources

These related links listed through government sites and other helpful websites that will provide you with valuable resources and information regarding drug addiction and alcoholism. All of these helpful links will provide information to help educate the public on the issues that the state is currently facing. These resources will go over everything from the opioid epidemic, including heroin and prescription pills, meth addiction and alcoholism. There is a staggering amount of Alaskan residents and Alaskan Natives who struggle with alcoholism, there are currently dozens of support groups and programs out there to help those struggling.

Types of Medical Detox in Alaska

Find Medical Detox by City

Here are direct links that can help you find a detox center near you. With Alaska being such a large state with hundreds of small towns spread throughout, you may need to contact us to help you find the correct facility. No matter what you or your loved one are detoxing from, there is a facility out there that can help you through this difficult time. If you do not see a nearby city listed, please feel free to contact us. We can help locate a detox center that best fits your individual needs.

Alaska Alcohol Laws

Legal drinking age is 21. Persons under the age of 21 may not enter or remain on licensed premises unless accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or spouse over the age of 21 years. Notwithstanding this rule, licensees may exclude underage persons from licensed premises at any time. The State's alcoholic beverage laws allow licensed businesses to serve alcohol from 8am to 5am, every day except on election days. The laws allow local governing bodies to make hours more restrictive or to not partake in the election day closure.

"The State's alcoholic beverage laws allow licensed businesses to serve alcohol from 8am to 5am"

Licensed businesses must be closed on days when there is an election until the polls close. Local governing bodies may put into effect ordinances exempting licensed businesses within their jurisdiction. Alaska does not limit or tax alcoholic beverages brought into this state that are not for resale. Out-of-state suppliers may ship alcoholic beverages to Alaska residents. Over 75 Alaska communities have banned the importation or possession of alcoholic beverages. It can be a felony crime to ship alcohol to those communities.

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC), is the system of measure used to determine how much alcohol is in your bloodstream. The blood alcohol limit in Alaska is 0.08%, unless you are operating a commercial vehicle, in which case the limit is 0.04%.

"The blood alcohol limit in Alaska is 0.08%"

The Division of Motor Vehicles will suspend your driver's license once you are arrested, regardless of any penalties given by the court. You will face minimum driver's license suspension times of:
1st offense: 90 days
2nd offense: 1 year
3rd offense: 3 years
4th and subsequent offenses: 5 years

Alaska Marijuana Laws

Marijuana is a Schedule VIA substance under the Controlled Substances chapter of Alaskan criminal law. Yet, tetrahydrocannabinol, hash, and hash oil are Schedule IIIA substances.

Adults may possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or to grow up to six marijuana plants (no more than three mature) for non-commercial purposes. Sharing or gifting 1 ounce or less, or 6 plants or less for personal use to persons at least 21 years of age quantities of marijuana is also permitted under the new law; however, the consumption of cannabis in public remains an offense and is punishable by a fine of up to $100.

Using marijuana before driving can result in the user getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). This is still true even though marijuana is legal for adults.

Possession of 1 to less than 4 ounces is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1-year imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000. However, if the use, display, or possession was for personal use and occurred in the confines of the offender’s private residence, there is no penalty and this act is protected under the Alaskan constitutional right to privacy. Possession of 4 or more ounces of marijuana is a class C felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $50,000.