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Drug Addiction in Alaska
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Drug Addiction in Alaska

Substance use disorder is a term that represents a wide range of conditions related to drug and alcohol use, including drug abuse, drug dependence, and drug addiction. Drug use disorders are a serious concern for the United States, with the country currently facing what its worst drug crisis to date. Substance abuse and drug addiction affect people from all walks of life and does not discriminate – anyone can fall victim to the deadly disease of addiction. There are countless variations of psychoactive substances that contribute to the climbing rate of drug addiction in Alaska, such as alcohol, prescription medications, and illicit drugs. Drug addiction in Alaska is an ever-present issue, and many residents are struggling with substance use disorders that require professional help from a certified drug rehab facility. There are several top-ranked Alaska drug addiction treatment centers that offer individualized treatment and comprehensive rehabilitation programs that are proven effective for lasting recovery. Treatment for drug addiction in Alaska often includes including medical detox, medication-assisted treatment, inpatient and outpatient rehab, counseling programs, behavioral therapy, and long-term aftercare support services. In order to tackle drug addiction in Alaska, those who are struggling with a substance use disorder must reach out for help. If you or someone you love is facing problems with substance abuse or is dependent on drugs, speak with the counselors at Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers Alaska for information, support, and guidance in finding the right program and starting recovery.

What is drug abuse?

Drug abuse is defined by the misuse or recreational use of any chemical substance, whether it be a legal prescription drug, over-the-counter medicine, inhalant, illicit drug, alcohol, or even cigarettes.  When a person uses a drug in any manner, frequency, amount, or purpose other than it is intended, it is considered drug abuse. It is generally common by nature for people to experiment with substances on a one-time basis or rare occasion, and though this behavior is classified as drug abuse, it is a mild form. However, experimentation can easily lead to regular abuse which can formulate into a physical and psychological dependence over time.

People abuse substance for a number of reasons, with opioids generally taken to induce feelings of euphoria, marijuana taken to induce feelings of relaxation, and stimulants taken to induce energy and mental focus. Drug abuse can go unnoticed by friends and family members for months or years. Someone with a substance abuse problem experiences an intense desire to use and take increasing amounts of one or more substance.Drug abuse often leads to addiction, with psychological and physical dependence both possible from extensive exposure to street drugs. Illicit drug abuse is a big problem across Alaska and all over the United States, with dedicated drug treatment programs often needed to break the bonds of addiction.

Drug Addiction Statistics in Alaska

A wide range of illicit drugs, such as opioids, meth, and cocaine, are obtainable in Alaska with little or no effort. According to the 2012-2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Alaska ranked in the top ten in the United States for rates of illegal drug use in a number of categories. 13.3 percent of Alaskan residents have used illicit drugs at some stage during the last month, with this figure more than the national average of 9.28 percent. According to a separate report published by the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center, the number of arrests linked to illicit drugs increased by a massive 34.3 percent during the first decade of the new millennium, with juvenile arrests for illicit substances also increasing by 19.1 percent. Despite these worrying statistics, a shortfall of treatment centers has been recognized throughout Alaska.

Popular Drugs of Abuse in Alaska

People abuse a wide range of psychoactive substances, with common categories including alcohol, prescription medications, and illegal street drugs. Alcohol is a widely abused legal substance that is known to cause physical dependence as a result of extensive exposure. Prescription drugs are widely available through the medical system, with some substances also making their way onto the black market for recreational consumers. Commonly abused prescription medications include opioid painkillers such as oxycodone, sedatives such as Valium and Xanax, and stimulants such as Adderall and Concerta. Street drugs are illegal and purchased solely for the black market, with commonly abused illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, LSD, and marijuana.

Heroin

Heroin is an extremely potent illicit opioid drug that is widely available in Alaska. While heroin is closely related to the naturally occurring molecule, morphine, found in many prescription opioids, heroin is both stronger and more addictive than these drugs. People take heroin for its transcendent euphoric qualities, but continued use of the drug can quickly lead to a psychological and physical dependence. Once a heroin dependency forms, it can seem nearly impossible for the person to stop using on his or her own without professional help due to the intense and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that often occur. Even if the user has a strong desire to no longer take the substance, the symptoms of heroin withdrawal can be strong enough to cause the individual to use heroin again just to cease the pain and discomfort. Extensive exposure to heroin is linked with a range of physical-somatic and emotional-motivational withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, headaches, sweating, abdominal cramping, involuntary body movements, insomnia, depression, and anxiety.

Treatment for heroin addiction typically starts in a medical detox program. Heroin withdrawal presents some of the most severe symptoms seen in any drug detox. It is vital to be in the care of medical professionals when detoxing from heroin, and attempting to undergo the process of withdrawal from this drug is particularly dangerous, as some symptoms can be fatal. Alaska drug detox facilities may opt to use medications such as methadone or buprenorphine to treat severe withdrawal symptoms. A tapering method is typically used with these medications in detox to help the body slowly rebalance itself and adjust without the opioid. In some instances, a patient may require long-term medication assisted treatment as a method of harm reduction and opioid replacement therapy. They will continue taking the medication after detox, while in rehab and aftercare programs. Psychotherapy measures are also used to treat heroin addiction, with cognitive, behavioral, and motivational methods used to address the emotional and social precedents of addiction.

Cocaine

Cocaine is a popular and widely available illegal substance, with this drug available in Alaska as powder cocaine and crack cocaine. Cocaine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant taken to induce feelings of confidence and energy, with extensive abuse often leading to psychological dependence. People who are dependent on cocaine experience a psychological reaction when drug intake is stopped, with typical symptoms including drug cravings, lack of motivation, insomnia, and depression.

Cocaine is not a physically addictive substance, with medications largely ineffective when treating cocaine addiction. Instead, a range of behavioral therapy measures are applied, including cognitive behavioral therapy, group counseling sessions, family therapy, motivational interviewing, and relapse prevention systems. Like many psychoactive drugs, relapse is a common scenario for cocaine addicts, with dedicated relapse prevention techniques administered to help addicts recognize triggers and cope with challenging life events as they arise. Drug treatment is a continual process that takes time, commitment, and access to external support systems.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine, also known simply as meth, is a potent CNS stimulant taken to induce feelings of energy, sexual desire, mental focus, and confidence. Much like cocaine and other stimulant drugs, meth is associated with emotional and motivational withdrawal symptoms upon drug discontinuation. Typical withdrawal symptoms include intense drug cravings, depression, insomnia, lack of motivation, changes to sleeping patterns, and changes to eating patterns. Meth abuse has also been linked to a range of social problems, including increased rates of crime and hospitalization.

Medications are largely ineffective when treating meth dependence, with most treatment methods based on behavioral therapies and aftercare support programs. While detox is sometimes administered, it is mostly used as a way to enforce drug discontinuation rather than a medical procedure. Typical behavioral modalities include motivational enhancement therapy (MET) and cognitive behavioral therapy. Common aftercare programs include 12-step groups, SMART Recovery, and relapse prevention support.

If you are considering treatment, pick up the phone and reach out to an addiction specialist today. Recovery and sobriety start here.