Overview of Online Substance Use Counseling in Alabama
Like many other states in the nation, Alabama has seen steady growth in the use of opioids and other drugs containing fentanyl in recent years. These highly addictive substances can be lethal, which explains why the state has also experienced a steep rise in the number of drug overdose deaths. Statistics show an increase of 30% from 2019 to 2021.
These alarming numbers have called many people to action. For example, the state recently launched a public awareness campaign to educate residents about the dangers of fentanyl. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is working to support Alabama healthcare providers in finding more effective pain management options and removing barriers to counseling for substance abuse.
This data also points to a growing need for substance use counseling in Alabama. Counseling professionals assist individuals and their loved ones in addressing addiction to a range of substances and behavior, including opioids, alcohol, gambling, food, and other addictive drugs. Substance use counselors — also known as substance abuse counselors — offer guidance, helping clients identify the driving forces behind their addictions and develop healthier behaviors so they can recover.
Looking for more options? Explore our lists of the best substance abuse counseling bachelor's degrees, the most affordable substance abuse counseling bachelor's degrees, and the most affordable master's in substance abuse counseling degrees.
FAQs About Substance Use Counseling in Alabama
What Can You Do With a Substance Use Counselor Degree in Alabama?
In the state of Alabama, graduates who've earned a traditional or online substance abuse counseling degree have a number of career options. Some may require additional education, and most require licensure or certification.
One of the most common choices is to become a substance abuse or behavioral health counselor. Under Alabama state counseling requirements, bachelor's degree holders can practice as long as they're supervised by licensed counselors. To practice independently, you must earn a master's degree in substance use counseling or general counseling and meet several other requirements for licensure.
Other ways to serve the public include becoming a community health worker or health education specialist. With several years of work experience, you may also qualify for a management role in social services or health services.
How Much Does a Substance Use Counselor Make in Alabama?
How Do I Become a Substance Use Counselor in Alabama?
As in many states, entering the field of substance use counseling in Alabama is a multi-step process with several variations.
The first step in becoming a substance use counselor is education. Many professionals start off by earning a traditional or online substance abuse counseling bachelor's degree. In Alabama, if you hold this degree, you can find employment as an addiction counselor, but only if you work in supervised settings, such as community service agencies.
To work as a supervised substance use counselor, you will also need to earn some type of voluntary state-issued or national credential, which is likely to involve accruing hundreds of hours of related training and passing an exam. Many of the most common credentials are available through the Alabama Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (AADAA), the Alabama Association of Addiction Counselors (AAAC), the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH), and the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).
If you want to work as a private, unsupervised substance use counselor, you'll need to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) through the Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC). To begin, you'll need to earn a master's degree in counseling from a college or university that has been accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
As a new graduate, you'll need to become an Associate Licensed Counselor (ALC) first so you can accrue the required 2,000-4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience and pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE) to advance to the LPC level.
Like many credentials, your LPC license needs to be renewed every two years. During each two-year renewal period, you'll need to complete a minimum of 40 hours of professional continuing education in your field.
Does Alabama Have Reciprocity for Substance Use Counselors?
Alabama does not currently have reciprocity agreements with other states for substance use counselors, but that may be changing soon. In 2022, the state joined the Interstate Counseling Compact, a nationwide agreement that will enable many types of counselors to work with clients in other states and vice versa. For example, licensed practitioners in Alabama will be allowed to provide online substance abuse counseling to people in Florida, Mississippi, and other compact member-states. The compact will go into effect when 10 states have joined, which lawmakers hope to see in 2024.