FAIRBANKS — Alcohol, heroin, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, cocaine and marijuana are the most commonly abused drugs in Alaska, according to a report recently released by state law enforcement.
The 2014 Annual Drug Report is issued by the Alaska State Troopers’ Alaska Bureau of Investigation, Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit every year, and tracks drug and illegal alcohol arrests, seizures and usage trends. An introduction to the report states it is compiled using statistics from as many municipal, borough and federal agencies as possible as well as “anecdotal information gathered from conversations with those investigators on the front lines of Alaska’s efforts to investigate, document, and apprehend those who have chosen to participate in Alaska’s illicit drug and alcohol culture.”
According to the new report, members of Alaska law enforcement and the justice system have long known that “the greatest contributing factor to violent crimes — including domestic violence and sexual assault — is drug and alcohol abuse. Property crimes such as burglary and theft are also often related to drug and alcohol abuse. It is also widely recognized that many of the accidental deaths that occur in Alaska are related to alcohol use.”
Alaska was one of the top ten states nationwide in illicit drug use rates, according to a 2012-2013 national survey cited in the trooper report. Nonetheless, the amount of adult Alaskans who reported using illicit drugs within the past month went down from 14.45 percent in 2009-2010to approximately 13.3 percent in 2012-2013.
Alcohol is the “primary abused substance” in Alaska and contributes to many deaths, especially on rural areas. Bootlegging is a major concern and has the greatest profit potential for those engaged in it. A bottle of alcohol legally purchased for less than $10 in a city liquor store can be sold in a dry village for $150 to $300 per bottle.
Heroin is popular in Alaska, continuing a disturbing nationwide trend. It is primarily imported into the state by parcel shipment or by drug couriers carrying it on their body. It has been found in smaller communities and its use transcends socio-economic boundaries.
Methamphetamine is readily available statewide even though troopers did not investigate or respond to a single report of a methamphetamine lab in 2014. The drug arrives from sources outside the state and its abuse continues to be a problem.
OxyContin/Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and other opioids “continued to be a significant issue in 2014” and are linked to homicide, assault, prescription fraud, home invasion thefts, property thefts and pharmacy robberies.
Cocaine is still popular, with crack or rock being prevalent in urban centers such as Fairbanks or Anchorage. Powdered cocaine is more commonly found in the villages.
Alaskans are smoking, as well as selling, marijuana. A 2011 Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that 21.2 percent of high school students used marijuana within the last 30 days. Alaska also is considered a “marijuana exporting state” because of the high quality of marijuana produced here.
The 2014 Annual Drug Report can be viewed in its entirety at dps.alaska.gov, in the highlights section.
Contact Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.