Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counselor
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 are developing programs that are coordinated in the regional centers but also employ counselors in smaller villages. (See the Behavioral Health Aide description.) Other employers include local, state, and federal governmental agencies, schools, churches, and non-profit organizations.
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.
- Graduation from high school or completion of a GED.
- Certification for Counselor Technician requires a minimum of one year full time work experience (2,000 hours). Training includes 100 supervised practicum hours and 100 training hours in a variety of courses.
- Certification for Chemical Dependency Counselor Level I requires two years full time work experience (4,000 hours) with increasingly specialized experience in chemical dependency treatment. Training includes a minimum of 146 approved contact training hours and completion of a 100 hour supervised practicum by a chemical dependency counselor.
- Certification at Chemical Dependency Counselor Level II requires four years work experience, three if you have a degree in a behavioral/human services field (8,000 hours) with increasingly specialized experience in chemical dependency treatment. Training includes a minimum of 110 approved contact training hours and completion of a 100 hour supervised practicum by a Certified chemical dependency counselor. In order to get the CDC II, one must pass an exam provided by NAADAC, one of three exams, called the NCAC I, NCAC II, or the MAC, but in order to take these exams, one must first be certified as a CDC I and provide proof.
- Certification at Chemical Dependency Clinical Supervisor requires six years work experience (12,000 hours) with increasingly specialized experience in chemical dependency treatment and supervision of staff. Training includes a minimum of 152 approved contact training hours and completion of a 100 hour supervised practicum by a Certified chemical dependency counselor.
For more details on the Certification requirements, contact the Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification at (907) 332-4333 or visit their website at http://www.akcertification.org/
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
Web site: http://www.radact.com/
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
Web site: http://hums.uaa.alaska.edu/
Department of Health and Social Services
Division of Behavioral Health
3601 C Street, Suite 934
Anchorage, AK 99503
Phone: (907) 269-3600
Toll free: (800) 770-3930
Fax: (907) 269-8166
Web site: http://www.hss.state.ak.us/dbh/
Alaska Commission for Behavioral Health Certification
207 E. Northern Lights Blvd., Suite 201
Anchorage, AK 99503
Phone: (907) 332-4333
Fax: (907) 332-4334
Web site: http://www.akcertification.org
NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals
1001 N. Fairfax St. Suite 201
Alexandria, VA 22314
Toll free: (800) 548-0497
Fax: (800) 377-1136
Web site: http://www.naadac.org
This page was last updated by Janice Troyer on June 26, 2013