Health Careers in Alaska

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Health Careers

Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counselor

Professional Activities

Alcohol and substance abuse counselors assess a client’s problems with alcohol and drugs. They use their knowledge and skills to help clients address and face the challenges of addiction/dependence and learn daily living skills to assist in coping with day-to-day problems in a way that will assist them in living a functional productive life. The assessment is based on intensive interviews with the client, and almost always includes an evaluation of the client’s family, education, work, friends, and living conditions.

The counselor’s strategy is to use verbal counseling to help the client understand his or her problem and to develop a plan that will change the behavior, lifestyle, or environmental surroundings that contribute to this problem. The alcohol and substance abuse counselor acts much like a teacher, training clients to understand and solve their own problems, as they learn how to live life successfully instead of depending on drugs and alcohol to avoid life’s problems. Frequently, counselors refer clients to additional information and professional services, including physicians, social workers, financial and housing assistance agencies, educational programs, mental health counselors, and other services.

Alcohol and substance abuse counselors are finding new opportunities for employment in rural Alaska. Many regional health corporations have developed extensive programs that employ village counselors throughout their regions (See the Behavioral Health Aide description). Other employers include local, state, and federal agencies, schools, churches, and non-profit organizations.

Educational Requirements

Alcohol and substance abuse counselor certification in the state of Alaska recognizes four levels of competency: Counselor Technician, Chemical Dependency Counselor Level I, Chemical Dependency Counselor Level II, and Chemical Dependency Clinical Supervisor. (Note: If an individual holds a degree in a behavioral health related field (i.e human services, social work, psychology, addiction, counseling, sociology, psychiatric nursing) this will reduce the amount of work experience required.  For more information, contact the Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification.

For more details on the Certification requirements, contact the Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification at (907) 332-4333 or visit their website at

Academic Programs

For course and training information contact:

The Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor Training Program (RADACT)
3901 Old Seward Highway, Suite 8
Anchorage, AK 99503
Phone: (907) 563-9202
Fax: (907) 562-7948

University of Alaska Anchorage
College of Health and Social Welfare
Human Services Department, PSB 212
3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, Alaska 99508
Phone: (907) 786- 6437
Fax: (907) 786-6436


State Contacts:

Department of Health and Social Services
Division of Behavioral Health
P.O. Box 110620
350 Main St., Suite 214
Phone: (907) 465-3370
Fax: (907) 465-2668
Contact: Albert Wall, Director of Behavioral Health
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification
P.O. Box 111350
Anchorage, AK 99511-1350
Phone: (907) 332-4333
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

National Contact:

NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals
1001 N. Fairfax St. Suite 201
Alexandria, VA 22314
Toll free: (800) 548-0497 or (703) 741-7686
Fax: (800) 377-1136 or (703) 741-7698

This page was last updated by Janice Troyer on October 18, 2016

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At A Glance: Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counselor

Hourly Wage: $14.10-$29.62 (Mean $21.77)
*Based on Alaska DOL data for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

Years in School: 2-4*
*after high school graduation

An Alaska Top Job!

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