Overview of Online Substance Use Counseling in Alaska
The massive state of Alaska is known for its majestic, rugged terrain and wide-open, sparsely populated spaces. But it is these very characteristics that make it easier for drug traffickers to smuggle fentanyl-laced opioids and other drugs into the state and make it harder for law enforcement agencies to crack down on drug-related crime. As a result of these and other factors, Alaska's rate of overdose deaths increased by 75.3% in 2021, as compared to the 15% national average.
In 2021, the state also had the second-highest number of alcohol-related deaths per capita and the highest rate of female deaths. In real numbers, Alaska sees an average of 433 deaths per year that can be attributed to excessive alcohol use.
However, lawmakers, policymakers, and community service agencies in the state are working hard to overcome these challenges by providing substance abuse counseling in Alaska. Trained specialists are needed to work in the seven treatment clinics scattered across the state, as well as in hospitals, social services, and private practices. Online counseling services may also become more widely available in the future, giving more residents access to mental healthcare.
You'll find even more options for earning a bachelor's degree on our ranked lists of the best online substance abuse counseling programs, the most affordable online substance abuse counseling programs, and the best online counseling programs.
FAQs About Substance Use Counseling Degrees in Alaska
What Can You Do With a Substance Use Counselor Degree in Alaska?
If you're interested in substance abuse counseling, you have several career options in Alaska. In this state, counselors are called chemical dependency counselors, and you can apply for one of three levels of certification. You can earn certification with or without a degree in counseling, but you will need to have completed some relevant college coursework.
Other options include becoming a community health worker, health education specialist, or nonclinical social worker. As you gain work experience, you may also become eligible for higher-paying management positions in community service agencies. Many of these occupations also require licensure in Alaska.
How Much Does a Substance Use Counselor Make in Alaska?
Professionals who provide substance abuse counseling in Alaska earn a mean annual salary of $68,770. There are currently 1,270 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors working in the state, and that number is well on its way to reaching the projected 10.6% increase from 2020 through 2030.
How Do I Become a Substance Use Counselor in Alaska?
In Alaska, substance use counselors are called chemical dependency counselors. Three levels of certification are available — Counselor Technician (CT) and Chemical Dependency Counselor (CDC) I and II — with progressively higher levels having a larger scope of practice and greater earnings potential.
In this state, you do not have to have an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree in substance use counseling to become a substance use counselor. However, you will need to verify that you've taken some classes in this subject area, such as clinical evaluation, treatment planning, and documentation.
In addition to educational requirements, you'll also need to demonstrate that you've accrued practicum hours and supervised training. Each level of counselor requires higher numbers of prior experience. For example, CT applicants with a degree need 20 contact hours of training, but CDC II applicants with a degree need 48 contact hours of training.
Finally, you'll be ready to apply for substance abuse counseling certification through the Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification (ACBHC), which is the board that oversees chemical dependency counselors. Along with your application, you'll be required to provide all college transcripts and documentation about your clinical experience. You'll also need to pass a criminal records check before receiving your license.
Although you do not have to take any type of exam to earn CT or CDC I certification, you will need to pass an exam for CDC II certification. You can choose to take any one of the following exams through the ACBHC: National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC) exam level I or level II or the Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) exam.
You'll need to renew your license every other year, which you can do online. Unlike many states, however, you do not need to complete any continuing education.
Does Alaska Have Reciprocity for Substance Use Counselors?
No, counselors who do not reside in Alaska or are not licensed to practice in Alaska cannot provide any type of counseling for substance abuse, even if they are licensed in their home state. However, given that many Alaskans live in rural areas and do not have access to mental healthcare, counselors who are licensed to practice in Alaska are encouraged to provide online substance abuse counseling.