• Opioids and Young Adults in Alaska: Access, Consumption, Consequences, and Perceptions

      Richie, Andrew; Hanson, Bridget; Davis, Kathryn E. (2020-12-21)
      Over the past 5 years, numerous state and local activities have targeted opioid prevention among Alaskans, particularly youth and young adults. While surveillance data exists for youth, no specific data exists for opioid behaviors and perceptions among Alaskan young adults. Researchers at the University of Alaska Anchorage Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services conducted surveys in 2016 and 2019 to gather information on awareness, opioid and heroin use, social and retail access, and risk perceptions. At each timepoint, Alaskans age 18-27 were randomly selected and invited to participate. Response rates for the surveys were 10.4% and 12.8%, respectively. Survey data were weighted for gender and borough in order to represent Alaska’s population of young adults. Changes from 2016 to 2019: Increase in seeing awareness messages about opioids Increase in rating prescription opioid misuse and heroin use as problems in community. Increase in perceived risk from misusing opioids or using heroin. Among those who had been prescribed opioids in the past three years: Decrease in reported conversations with doctor of pharmacist when receiving prescription The percentage who had leftover pills remained high. Of those, increase in bringing leftover pills to pharmacy or other permanent disposal site. Survey findings indicate success at disseminating opioid prevention messages in the community and promoting disposal of leftover opioids. Additionally, increasing perceived risk among young adults in Alaska may predict future reductions in opioid and heroin use behaviors. Findings indicate opportunities for broader media messaging and communication with healthcare providers.