There’s no ignoring the drug problem in Alaska. It’s managed to enter many parts of Alaskan life.

Drugs cause issues with both money and the law, and they also threaten people’s health. Based on the 2017 drug report, Alaska gave out 11,000 Naloxone overdose kits that year.

These seven substances are the most used drugs in Alaska. They are especially responsible for the crisis:

1) Alcohol

It’s not illegal, but alcohol is still abused by a lot of people in Alaska. In fact, it caused more substance abuse deaths than any other drug in 2017.

To fully understand the alcohol problem in Alaska, look these startling facts:

  • 18% of criminal convictions between 2006-2016 involved alcohol, a total of 47,427 cases.
  • Alcohol causes twice as many deaths in Alaska each year as opioids and methamphetamine combined.
  • Alaska has rates of alcohol abuse higher than most other states.

Besides your health, alcohol abuse in Alaska can get you into trouble with the police. Transporting alcohol into dry counties can even be a felony, depending on the amount.

2) Heroin

Heroin is a very addictive drug, and its powerful effects can have dangerous consequences. In Alaska, its use is on the rise. Police confiscated 7,061 grams in 2017, up from 2,227 in 2016.

It’s hard to get heroin to small towns in Alaska, so the price is high. This encourages violence and property crime. 2015-2017 saw an average of 179 heroin arrests each year.

Also, because of its black-market nature, it’s hard to know the quality of heroin you buy. Producers in Alaska often cut it with drugs like fentanyl that increase the risk of overdose.

3) Methamphetamine

Like in many states, more and more people are using methamphetamine in Alaska. Take a look at these drug seizures in 2017:

  • Alaska State Troopers seized 100,000 grams of methamphetamine, more than both heroin and cocaine.
  • The Anchorage PD alone seized 5,796 grams.
  • The DEA in Alaska seized 3,886 grams.

Not a lot of people make methamphetamine in Alaska, so sellers have to bring it from super labs in Mexico. This increases price which promotes crime. It also means the product’s ingredients are a mystery. That makes it even more dangerous.

4) Cocaine

Luckily, cocaine abuse has been dropping off in Alaska in the past few years. That’s partly because it’s difficult to get it into the state. Sometimes cocaine has to travel all the way from South America to the remote Arctic without getting stopped.

Still, prices can reach as high as $1,000 a gram in rural areas, so crime often comes along with cocaine abuse. On top of this, the drug is addictive and dangerous, making it a big problem in Alaskan communities.

In 2017, Alaska SDEU arrested 42 people on cocaine charges and seized 2,845 grams of the drug.

5) Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are at the heart of Alaska’s drug abuse crisis. They are easy to find, even in Alaska, and they are convenient for Alaskans’ “poly-drug use.”

For example, heroin or other opioid users often begin with a legal prescription for a painkiller like oxycodone. The unwanted addiction then makes them seek more powerful drugs on the black market.

It’s not just opiates, though. Alaskans also use benzodiazepines like etizolam and Xanax that can harm their health.

In October 2017, Alaska decided to fight back. They sued the drug company Purdue Pharma because of their ads and the ways they got more customers.

6) Synthetic Opioids

Drugs like fentanyl are one of the biggest threats to Alaska’s public health. Fentanyl is more powerful than other opioids, so it’s more addictive and easier to overdose on.

People often get fentanyl made in Mexico or China. It can be mixed with other drugs, and the exact amount may be impossible to know. It only takes a little bit for a deadly overdose.

You can see the danger of synthetic opioids from these scary numbers:

  • Alaskan police seized 25.27 grams of fentanyl in 2017, enough for 24,235 lethal doses.
  • Synthetic opioids killed 37 Alaskans in 2017. Fentanyl itself killed 28.
  • Deaths from synthetic-opioid overdoses rose over 350% from 2016-2017.

7) Illegal Marijuana

Like alcohol, marijuana is legal for recreational use in Alaska. That doesn’t stop it from being abused, though. There are still illegal growers and traffickers that try to get around the rules.

Fortunately, underage use and buying of illegal marijuana is decreasing. Marijuana produced on the black market may contain unknown substances and can be dangerous for your health.

Get Treatment for Substance Abuse in Alaska

You can help end Alaska’s drug problem. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, call Rehab Adviser today to learn about your treatment options.


  1. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. (n.d.). Opioid epidemic in Alaska. Retrieved from
  2. Alaska State Troopers. (2018). 2017 Annual Drug Report. Retrieved from Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit website:
  3. Hughes, Z. (2018, September 5). New Trooper report shows Alaska drug problem worsening. Retrieved from Alaska Public Media website:

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