Alaska is the largest state in America, covering over 570,000 square miles, and is home to approximately 740,000 people with about 240,000 Alaskans living in rural and remote areas.
According to the Alaska Epidemiologic Profile, alcohol consumption in 2010 was nearly two times the national average, despite significantly lower rates in the 108 communities throughout the state with some level of alcohol consumption restrictions. The economic cost of alcohol consumption for Alaska was $1.84 billion in 2014. Prepared for the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, the cost of alcohol consumption impacts several aspects of the Alaskan economy, resulting in:
The greatest alcohol-related economic strain on Alaska's economy resulted from traffic accidents and production loss, 32 percent and 42 percent of the total cost, respectively.
Based on a comprehensive 2017 report, the remote location of Alaska makes it a haven for drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), whether Mexican cartels or other gang organizations. The vastness of Alaska's landscape and insufficient law enforcement to fully monitor the expanse provides availability for organizations and gangs to bring drugs to the cities and rural areas of Alaska. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) identifies the most commonly abused drugs by Alaskans to be cocaine, prescriptions drugs, marijuana, alcohol, heroin, and methamphetamine, with a steady increase in prescription opioid use over the past three to five years, including fentanyl and carfentanil.
The Alaska Police Department reports a continued concern over the illegal importation of methamphetamine and heroin from the lower forty-eight states. The farther drug traffickers travel to deliver drugs like heroin, the higher the cost to users. For example, the cost of one gram of heroin in a city such as Anchorage may be $250, but in rural Kotzebue, the cost for the same gram of heroin may be as high as $1,000. Well known for its high THC content, Alaska-grown marijuana is heavily exported to other states in the country and is readily available to residents throughout Alaska.
There are around 250 sparsely located addiction treatment programs and buprenorphine physicians in Alaska offering rehab and treatment services at various levels of intensity and care, ranging from detox to intensive inpatient residential.
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