If you or a loved one has a problem with drugs or alcohol, there are a wide range of services available to help you get on the path to recovery. Calling the Alaska drug addiction hotline is a good place to start. You can discuss your problems and understand the treatment options available. It can be very useful to talk to our representatives before approaching local drug treatment services so that you are armed with all the necessary information. The National Drug Helpline is a toll-free 24/7 hotline that you can access by dialing 1-844-289-0879. If you’re not sure whether you need addiction treatment, where to find help, or what sort of program you might need, we can talk you through all your options. We can also help you find specialty treatment facilities in Anchorage, Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan, Homer, Valdez, and other communities in the state.



Law enforcement agencies in Alaska seized the following types and amounts of illicit drugs in 2021: [1]

  • Marijuana 49,078 grams and 396 gallons of marijuana edibles
  • Methamphetamine 25,838 grams
  • Heroin 9,296 grams
  • Cocaine 6,320 grams
  • Fentanyl 612 grams and 7,311 pills
  • Alcohol 2,500 bottles and 1,800 liters


One of the key reasons why the state of Alaska is an incentive for drug trafficking organizations to import and distribute drugs is the disparity in the price of drugs between Alaska and the contiguous United States. Because drugs and alcohol are trafficked at a great distance from the regional distribution hubs, their retail prices in Alaska are higher and represent greater profit margins for the traffickers.

For example, the retail price of 1 gram of methamphetamine can be anywhere from $350 to $1,500 in Alaska compared to an average price of below $100 in the lower 48. An opioid pill which costs $2 in the lower 48 can fetch as much as $40 in Alaska. The remoteness of the location can further influence prices. A fentanyl pill may cost $15 in Anchorage and $100 in Bethel which is 400 miles away and serves as a hub for over 50 villages. [5]

In addition, drug traffickers exploit the limited law enforcement resources in remote locations in the state.


Unfortunately, Alaska has one of the highest rates of binge drinking in the country. In 2010, approximately 20% of adults in the state reported binge alcohol use within the past month. To address this public health concern, the CDC funded an initiative in collaboration with the University of Alaska Anchorage to implement screening and brief intervention (SBI) services at three public health clinics. The program has been successful and is now an integral part of the state’s public health nursing practice. [2]

Man in dark-colored jacket standing on a lakeshore.


The Behavioral Health Barometer report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed mostly encouraging trends from 2002-2004 to 2017-2019 in Alaska. [3]

Youth (12 to 17-year-olds)

  • Past-month marijuana use fell from 11.6% to 7.3% (national average 6.8%).
  • Past-month alcohol use fell from 16.2% to 8.7% (national average 9.4%).
  • Past-month illicit drug use fell from 12.2% to 8.1% (national average 8.2%).
  • Past-year initiation of substances was 6.9% for alcohol (national average 9.3%), 7.9% for marijuana (national average 5.2%), and 2.2% for cigarettes (national average 2.3%).

Young Adults (18 to 25-year-olds)

  • Past-year marijuana use remained stable from 38.8% to 38.3% (national average 35%).
  • Past-year opioid use disorder decreased slightly from 1.3% to 1.0% (national average 1.0%).
  • Past-year illicit drug use dropped slightly from 8.6% to 8.4% (national average 7.5%).
  • Past-month binge alcohol use dropped from 38.1% to 33.5% (national average 35.4%).
  • Past-year alcohol use disorder decreased from 17.9% to 13.3% (national average 9.8%).

Unfortunately, past-year substance use disorder increased from 16.3% in 2002-2004 to 19.4% in 2017-2019 (national average 14.7%).

Additional findings in people aged 12 years or older in Alaska during the past year (2017-2019 data) are as follows:

  • Substance use disorder: 10.2%
  • Alcohol use disorder: 7.6%
  • Misuse of prescription pain relievers: 4.8%
  • Illicit drug use disorder: 3.6%
  • Marijuana use disorder: 2.4%
  • Heroin use: 0.73%
  • Opioid use disorder: 0.6%
  • Number of people enrolled in substance use treatment: 9,477
  • Number of people enrolled in opioid treatment programs: 848


Personal non-medical use and possession of marijuana has been legal in Alaska since February 2015. Here is some information and tips on the safe use of marijuana edibles.

What types of marijuana edibles are available in Alaska?

Marijuana edibles available in Alaska include foods like brownies, cookies, granola bars, and snack mixes; drinks like teas, juices, and flavored concentrates; candies such as chocolate, lollipops, lozenges, fudge, and jellybeans; tinctures (infused liquids); oils and butters.

What is the legal age to use marijuana edibles in Alaska?

Non-medical marijuana use is legal for adults 21 years of age and older in Alaska. This includes eating and drinking edibles, smoking, vaping, or dabbing marijuana.

Is it legal to consume marijuana edibles or smoke a joint in public places in Alaska?

No, it is illegal to consume marijuana edibles or smoke a joint in public places, including a parked vehicle in a public lot. [4]


Like the rest of the country, Alaska is in the middle of an opioid crisis. The opioid overdose death rate in the state increased by 77% between 2010 and 2017. The number of opioid-related deaths was 108 in 2017 and 64 in 2018.

An influx of fentanyl into Alaska in 2020 and 2021 has law enforcement agencies vexed, health systems overwhelmed, and Native communities deeply worried. 

During these two years, the synthetic opioid fentanyl was a major contributor to a spike in overdoses. Overdose deaths increased by 74% in 2021 and fentanyl deaths increased by 150%. Law enforcement agencies seized nearly 2.5 million doses of fentanyl in Alaska in the summer of 2022 alone. [5]

Alaskan Natives and American Indians are especially susceptible to fentanyl abuse with an overdose rate in 2021 of 77.7 compared to 28.8 per 100,000 for White Alaskans. [5]

Despite these worrisome trends, progress is being made. The number of opioid prescriptions written for Medicare Part D patients in Alaska has been trending down since 2015, suggesting more judicious use of these drugs in the state. Additionally, the use of naloxone, a rescue medication for opioid overdoses, is increasing, suggesting increased statewide availability of this life-saving medicine. [6]


A report by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority indicates more than 62,000 Alaskans (approximately 1 in 9 adults) need treatment for illicit drug or alcohol problems.

Access to specialized addiction treatment is a major public health concern in the state. Most people battling addictions are unable to participate in a formal drug or alcohol treatment program.

The state is working towards increasing capacity and availability of treatment programs so that any individual can get the care they need when they are ready for it. Statewide reforms are underway, including a redesign of the behavioral health system and implementation of a 1115 Behavioral Health Waiver. This waiver provides states with flexibility to test new approaches within Medicaid to redesign and improve their health systems without incurring increased costs. [7]


Alaska is a small state by population with around 0.7 million residents, but a large state by land mass, being approximately 25% the size of the lower 48. In addition, the state has a diverse population, variable seasons, and remote locations (less than 10% of the state is accessible by road). Due to these unique factors, much of the national data on substance use is not representative of the state.

Studies have found that addiction rates in Alaska are closely related to median income. In addition, negative mental health outcomes share a close relationship with unemployment rates in the state. There is a need to study and implement more state-specific measures to tackle substance abuse and ensure good outcomes for the state’s residents who are struggling with an addiction. [8]


  1. Alaska Department of Public Safety. 2021 Annual Drug Report. Available online. Accessed on June 29, 2023.
  2. CDC. Alaska Public Health Nurses Address Alcohol. Available online. Accessed on June 30, 2023.
  3. SAMHSA. Behavioral Health Barometer Alaska. Available online. Accessed on June 30, 2023.
  4. Alaska Department of Health. Marijuana Edibles Safety. Available online. Accessed on June 30, 2023.
  5. CBS. How Alaska became one of fentanyl’s deadliest frontiers. Available online. Accessed on June 30, 2023.
  6. Alaska Department of Health. Opioids in Alaska. Available online. Accessed on June 30, 2023.
  7. Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. Mental Health & Addiction Intervention. Available online. Accessed on June 30, 2023.
  8. National Library of Medicine. Understanding NSDUH data to Understand Addiction in a Low Population and Rural State. Available online. Accessed on June 30, 2023.

Last updated: July 25, 2023