Alaska’s Health Department released the latest findings on drug overdose deaths, which remains a significant contributor to mortality, especially in men, Alaska Natives and those ages 35 to 44 years.
The new Drug Overdose Mortality report covers 2022, and contains information about the characteristics of overdose victims, including sex, race, age, where deaths occur, the types of drugs and multidrug combinations involved in fatal overdoses, and prevention strategies and resources to help reduce deaths.
“Alaska continues to experience high rates of drug overdose deaths, many of which involve fentanyl,” the report states,” adding that naloxone, “when given in time,” can “reverse an overdose from opioids—including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications.”
Below are key findings for the 2022 update:
— There were 247 fatal drug overdoses in Alaska, down from 255 in 2021, but still the second highest number ever recorded.
— The statewide overdose death rate (which represents deaths per 100,000 Alaskans, adjusted for differences in age) was 33.5 deaths per 100,000 people, down from 35.1 in 2021, but significantly higher than the 14 deaths per 100,000 recorded in pre-Covid 2018.
— Overdose death rates were highest among men (a record 42.4 deaths per 100,000, compared to 24.1 per 100,000 for women), American Indian/Alaska Native people (78.2 deaths per 100,000), people aged 35-44 years old (64.7 deaths per 100,000), and people located in the Anchorage region (48.0 deaths per 100,000).
— Opioids were involved in 75% of fatal overdoses (185 deaths). This includes 151 deaths involving fentanyl or a similar chemical.
— Psychostimulants (drugs that stimulate the central nervous system) were involved in 57% of fatal overdoses (140 deaths). This includes 127 deaths involving methamphetamine.
— Between 2018 and 2022, 58% of fatal overdoses involved two or more different narcotic (numbing/pain relief), sedative (sleep/muscle relaxant), or psychotropic (neural/behavioral) drugs in combination. Synthetic narcotics plus psychostimulants (e.g., fentanyl plus methamphetamine) was the most common fatal multidrug combination.
Click this link to read the full report.