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State of Alaska

Substance Use Disorder

The standard term "Substance Abuse" refers to the overindulgence in or dependence on an addictive substance, especially alcohol or drugs. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) updated the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), replacing the categories of substance abuse and substance dependence with a single category: substance use disorder. The symptoms associated with a substance use disorder fall into four major groupings: impaired control, social impairment, risk use, and pharmacological criteria (i.e., tolerance and withdrawal).1


1. The Science of Drug Abuse and Addition: The Basics. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed: 1/6/2016.
Abuse of and addiction to alcohol, nicotine, and illicit and prescription drugs cost Americans more than $700 billion a year in increased health care costs, crime, and lost productivity. Every year, illicit and prescription drugs and alcohol contribute to the death of more than 90,000 Americans, while tobacco is linked to an estimated 480,000 deaths per year. (Hereafter, unless otherwise specified, drugs refers to all of these substances.)1 Eight of the ten leading causes of death in Alaska are at least partially caused by the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. In 2013, the ten leading causes of death in Alaska were malignant neoplasms, diseases of the heart, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease, suicide, diabetes, chronic liver disease, Alzheimer's disease, and influenza and pneumonia. Of these, chronic liver disease, unintentional injuries, and suicide are associated with alcohol use; chronic lower respiratory disease and influenza and pneumonia are associated with tobacco use; heart disease, malignant neoplasms, and cerebrovascular disease are associated with both alcohol and tobacco use.2



2. Top Ten Leading Causes of Death for Alaska 2013 Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics. Accessed: 1/6/2016.
The economic cost to the Alaska economy from substance use disorders in 2010 was estimated at $1.2 billion. Costs by category include3:
  • $673.2 million in productivity losses (56%),
  • $50.5 million in traffic crash costs (4%),
  • $217.7 million in criminal justice and protective services (18%)
  • $237.3 million in heath care (20%), and
  • $13.2 million in public assistance and social services (1%).



Alaska's pattern of substance use disorder generally follows national trends. Below are some of the situations where they differ4:
  • About 4 in 10 (42.4%) adolescents (aged 12-17) in Alaska in 2013-2014 perceived no great risk from smoking one or more packs of cigarettes a day-a percentage higher than the national percentage.
  • About 8 in 10 (82.9%) adolescents (aged 12-17) in Alaska in 2013-2014 perceived no great risk from smoking marijuana once a month-a percentage higher than the national percentage.
The number of Alaskan's affected by substance use disorder include4:
  • In Alaska, about 6,000 adolescents (9.8% of all adolescents) per year in 2013-2014 reported using illicit drugs within the month prior to being surveyed.
  • In Alaska, about 4,000 adolescents (6.2% of all adolescents) per year in 2013-2014 reported using cigarettes within the month prior to being surveyed.
  • In Alaska, about 12,000 people aged 12-20 (13.0% of all people in this age group) per year in 2013-2014 reported binge alcohol use within the month prior to being surveyed.
  • In Alaska, about 39,000 individuals aged 12 or older (6.7% of all individuals in this age group) per year in 2013-2014 were dependent on or abused alcohol within the year prior to being surveyed. The percentage did not change significantly from 2010-2011 to 2013-2014.
  • In Alaska, about 19,000 individuals aged 12 or older (3.2% of all individuals in this age group) per year in 2013-2014 were dependent on or abused illicit drugs within the year prior to being surveyed. The percentage did not change significantly from 2010-2011 to 2013-2014.
  • In Alaska, about 35,000 adults aged 21 or older (7.2% of all adults in this age group) per year in 2010-2014 reported heavy alcohol use within the month prior to being surveyed.
  • In Alaska, among individuals aged 12 or older with alcohol dependence or abuse, about 5,000 individuals (10.6%) per year in 2010-2014 received treatment for their alcohol use within the year prior to being surveyed.
  • In Alaska, among individuals aged 12 or older with illicit drug dependence or abuse, about 2,000 individuals (11.8%) per year in 2010-2014 received treatment for their illicit drug use within the year prior to being surveyed.

4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Behavioral Health Barometer Alaska, 2015. HHS Publication No. SMA-16-Baro-2015-AK. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2015. Accessed: 1/28/2016.
In almost thirty years of research for the best methods to offer prevention and early intervention services to youth and families, a number of key issues have been identified for Alaska5:
  • Environmental and educational strategies help communities take an active role in addressing local issues of substance abuse.
  • Culturally appropriate services promote greater success in our Alaska Native communities by implementing programs that incorporate traditional cultural values.
  • Identification of a community's risk and protective factors has led to the use of the resiliency model that builds upon positive life skills and experiences, helping youth succeed despite growing up in a high-risk family or environment.
  • More aggressive underage purchasing enforcement laws for both alcohol and tobacco reduce teen usage and adult purchasing for youth.
  • Greater emphasis on local option laws assist in giving communities more control of access to alcohol and drugs.


Nationally, the most common reasons that people who need and seek treatment do not receive it are because: they have no health insurance and cannot afford the cost; they are concerned about the possible negative effect on their job; or they are not ready to stop using.6


5. Prevention and Early Intervention: Substance Abuse Prevention Program Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Behavioral Health. Accessed on 1/6/2016.
6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-48, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4863. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014. Accessed on 6/18/2015.
Mental Health data can be obtained from both mortality as well as morbidity data sources:

7. Alcohol and Public Health: Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI). Downloaded from http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/DACH_ARDI/Default/Default.aspx on Jan 5, 2015.
Some of these links will take you to the query where you can select SUBMIT to run the default query. To modify the query criteria, you can use the top left ("MODIFY Query") navigation button on the query results page.

BRFSS (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System) - Examples

Alcohol

Marijuana

Tobacco

CUBS (Childhood Understanding Behaviors System) - Examples

Alcohol

Tobacco

PRAMS (Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System) - Examples

Alcohol

Marijuana

Tobacco

YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Survey) - Local Survey Examples

Alcohol

Marijuana

Other Drugs

Tobacco

YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Survey) - Statewide Survey Examples

Alcohol

Marijuana

Other Drugs

Tobacco


The information provided above is from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services' Center for Health Data and Statistics, Alaska Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health (Ak-IBIS) web site (http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sun, 24 September 2017 from Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Center for Health Data and Statistics, Alaska Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health web site: http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov ".

Content updated: Thu, 8 Jun 2017 09:34:53 AKDT
The information provided above is from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services' Center for Health Data and Statistics AK-IBIS web site (http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov/). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sun, 24 September 2017 2:19:49 from Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Center for Health Data and Statistics, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov/ ".

Content updated: Thu, 8 Jun 2017 09:34:53 AKDT