As we continue our 50 states of addiction series let’s reflect on yesterday’s blog. Alabama came up 26th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States. Today we take a look at Alaska the next state of addiction on our list.

Alaska is in the dark.

Currently in Alaska heroin and prescription opiate abuse has reached extraordinary proportions. They have formed the Alaska Opioid Policy Task Force and have teamed them up with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and the State Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. There is no other partnership like this in any other state. A wave of federal funding for addiction treatment is heading to Alaska. 1.76 million dollars out of the 94 million was granted to increase the number of people being screened for problems with substance abuse. Also to provide easier and clear access to treatment.

What are the facts?

5 percent of the world’s population takes 85 percent of the world’s pain pills in the United States. A place that used to be home of the free has been shackled by addiction. More people are dying of illicit drug overdoses than car accidents. The fact of the matter is that it is cold in Alaska. You can literally freeze to death in a matter of hours. 60 percent of people are homeless due to drug and alcohol use. Many people come to the city Anchorage to receive help. There are 1,000s of them and the problem is the long waiting list. Alaska has the 17th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the U.S. Coming in at 15.3 per 100,000.

Why do we care?

According to the CDC, half a million people are addicted to heroin and more than 2 million Americans are addicted to opioid painkillers. It’s heartbreaking and unfortunately we have been viewing the drug abuse in our society through the criminal justice system. Incarceration costs a lot of money. It costs taxpayers more to send a heroin addict to jail at over $30,000 dollars than it does to get them 90 days of quality inpatient treatment.

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