SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Drug overdoses significant contributor to deaths in Alaska


July 30, 2022

(SitNews) - Drug overdoses are a significant contributor to mortality in Alaska and represent an ongoing public health concern. Deaths by overdose have been increasing annually since 2018 according to the Alaska Department of Health. A new report designed to provide an update on the current state of Alaska drug overdose mortality through 2021 has recently been released. The Health Analytics and Vital Records Sections of the Department of Health notes that the data in this new report may be incomplete and should be considered provisional and subject to change.

jpg Drug overdoses significant contributor to deaths in Alaska

Graphic Courtesy Alaska Dept of Health
Full report 2021 Drug Overdose Mortality Update (July 25th, 2022)

Notable Findings:

• In 2021, there were 253 overdose deaths, up from 146 in 2020.

• The age-adjusted overdose death rate in 2021 was 35.2 deaths per 100,000 population, up from 20.2 in 2020.

• By sex, men typically experience higher overdose death rates than women.

• By race, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people typically experience higher overdose death rates than other races.

• By age, young adults and middle-aged people between 25 to 54 years old typically experience higher overdose death rates than other ages.

• Anchorage had the state’s highest age-adjusted overdose death rate by region in 2021, at 49.3 deaths per 100,000, up from 31.4 in 2020.

• In 2021, there were 196 opioid overdose deaths, up from 102 in 2020. This includes 145 deaths involving fentanyl, up from 58 in 2020.

• Methamphetamine was involved in 154 overdose deaths in 2021, up from 62 in 2020.

• Out of the 778 drug overdose deaths between 2017 and 2021, 454 deaths (or 58.4%) involved a combination of two or more types of narcotic, sedative, or psychotropic drugs.

Evidence-Based Strategies to Reduce Drug Overdose Deaths

1. Prevention:

a. Educational campaigns.
b. Interventions tailored to the community.
c. Prescription drug monitoring programs.
d. Opioid prescribing guidelines.
e. Regulating promotion and marketing of opioids.
f. Better mental health care.
g. Opioid safe disposal locations.

2. Harm Reduction:

a. Availability of fentanyl test strips.
b. Naloxone access and training.
c. Syringe services programs.
d. Supervised injection sites.

3. Treatment:

a. Increase access to treatment, including through telehealth. b. Medications for opioid use disorder.
c. Expand and diversify treatment workforce.
d. Improve health care workforce addiction training.
e. Reduce stigma for seeking care.
f. Access to culturally competent care.
g. Treatment alternatives to incarceration.

4. Recovery:

On the Web:

Download and read the full report 2021 Drug Overdose Mortality Update (July 25th, 2022)

Edited By: Mary Kauffman, SitNews

Source of News:

Alaska Department of Health
Division of Public Health
Health Analytics and Vital Records Section
Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention


Representations of fact and opinions in comments posted are solely those of the individual posters and do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.

Send a letter to the

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2022
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

 Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews are considered protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper freelance writers and subscription services.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.