Monday, January 24, 2022


In the past few years, Alaska has seen a growing number of substance abuse cases involving non-medical uses of prescription medications. State officials are implementing new programs in an effort to track and shut down dangerous drug trafficking organizations.

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Alaska Addiction Treatment

Alaska’s most harmful abused substances,  cocaine and opioids, continue to climb to new records each year. Although the number of Alaskans who reported using illicit drugs over a 30-day period has decreased, other substances such as prescription medications, marijuanaand alcohol rates are on an upward trend.

Alaskan Rehab Guide, The Recover

Alaska is listed as one of the ten worst states nationwide for illicit drug use rates.

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The most commonly abused drugs in Alaska are:

  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Prescription drugs
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana

Many drugs found in Alaska are imported from outside the state by parcel shipment, passenger luggage and through ports of entry. With a large amount of illicit substances entering the state, drug-related criminal activity is becoming a serious concern. Cocaine and opioids have been linked to homicide, assault, prescription fraud, home invasion thefts, property thefts and pharmacy robberies across different boroughs in Alaska. Between 2000-2011, arrests for drug offenses spiked 34.3 percent.

After the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in 2014, Alaska is now labeled as a “marijuana exporting state.” Since Alaska produces one of the largest amounts of marijuana in the country, law enforcement officers are developing new initiatives to help raise awareness and keep citizens safe.

If you or someone you love is looking to get help from a drug addiction, give us a call today to find a treatment center near you.

Laws of Alaska Drug Use

Controlled dangerous substances (CDS) in Alaska are separated into six groups: IA, IIA, IIIA, IVA, VA and VIA. Classifications are determined by the severity of the drug’s effects and possibility of addiction.

Additionally, drug crimes are classified into one of five degrees, with misconduct in the first degree being the most severe. Possession of a drug is less serious than distribution, so it may fall between degrees three, four and five.

For example, a fifth degree misdemeanor might include possessing three grams or less of anabolic steroids. This involves sentencing of up to one year in jail and no more than $10,000 in fines. However, if you possess more than three grams, you could face a fourth degree which is a felony. A fourth degree charge comes with five years’ prison time plus up to $50,000 in fines.

Alcohol Laws in Alaska

Alcohol regulations vary by borough in Alaska. While some allow the sale and possession of alcohol, others have limitations. For example, a dry borough bans the possession and sale of alcohol altogether. However, a damp borough limits the amount of alcohol an individual can possess, but bans its sale and distribution.

In damp boroughs, people are allowed to purchase 10 ½ liters of hard liquor each month. This figure also includes a monthly limit of buying 32 bottles of wine and 12 gallons of beer.

Roughly 11 percent of the total Alaska population and 52 percent of the Native population live in damp or dry boroughs.

Sometimes people try to smuggle alcohol bottles into dry boroughs and sell them for a 100-200% markup – known as bootlegging. Bootlegging is a serious offense in Alaska that leads to harsh punishment and sentencing.

Marijuana Laws in Alaska

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Alaska in 2014. However, there are still laws surrounding the use and sale of marijuana, such as:

  • You must be 21 years of age or older to grow or use marijuana.
  • Marijuana cannot be consumed in public. 
  • It’s illegal to operate vehicles such as cars, snow machines, boats and ATVs while under the influence of marijuana. 
  • You can only possess, grow and give away as many as six plants. Only three plants can be mature and flowering at any one time.
  • Any marijuana product cannot cross Alaska state limits.

Improperly using marijuana can result in legal penalties and charges, depending on the amount involved.

Addiction Treatment Laws in Alaska

Each year, the Federal Government awards grants to different states in an effort to reduce drug abuse. Alaska distributes this money through various local and state programs including:

  • Safe and drug-free schools
  • Community programs
  • Drug abuse research programs
  • Block grants for prevention and treatment of substance abuse
  • Substance abuse and mental health services – access to recovery
  • Residential substance abuse treatment for state prisoners

Although Alaska enacted legislation to establish a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), it is currently not fully operational. Once the program is active, it will keep track of medications prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacies. This will reduce non-medical uses of prescription drugs, as well as alert medical professionals about potential drug abuse.

Anchorage Wellness Court

Anchorage offers two options for those with offenses like misdemeanors, felony DUIs and felony drug charges – jail time or the Anchorage Wellness Court. Some benefits to the Anchorage Wellness Court include:

  • Substance abuse assessment and treatment
  • Reduced or no jail time (or fines) 
  • Possible financial assistance to secure housing 
  • Assistance in securing employment or job training
  • Opportunity for long-term recovery

Each program lasts approximately 12-18 months. Participants are given a list of requirements that they must adhere to in order to successfully complete the program. These requirements include:

  • Participate in intensive substance abuse treatment
  • Attend recovery support groups
  • Appear frequently for compliance hearings
  • Work or attend school for a minimum of 16 hours per week
  • Undergo alcohol and drug testing
  • Maintain sobriety
  • Attend Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT)
  • Follow through with mental health service recommendations

The Anchorage Wellness Court strives to give individuals the tools they need for lasting sobriety and avoid future criminal activity.

Treatment Centers in Alaska

Alaska provides many options for addiction treatment such as community-based resources, self-help groups and public assistance. Boroughs and neighborhoods with behavioral health centers often offer reduced rates for substance use and mental health treatments, as well as counseling services. Local support groups and faith-based treatment centers also have relationships with organizations that may provide financial assistance to those in need.

Another option for addiction treatment is going to an out-of-state rehab facility. If you’re looking for a quality program, sometimes the best option may not be located in your home state. Not only do out-of-state treatment centers help you get away from triggers and unhealthy relationships, they also have up to a 12 percent higher completion rate than those in-state.

If you’re ready to take the first step to recovery, call us today to find a treatment center.

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