Eating Disorder Treatment in Alaska

Different recovery choices can be utilized within your state—spanning a range from executive residential to high-quality Alaska outpatient programs.

Alaska map

Eating disorders are serious and complex mental health disorders, which manifest as any number of disordered eating behaviors. These conditions are also generally marked by extreme body image concerns, and they can affect anyone, regardless of race, age, or gender.

Unfortunately, eating disorders also often make a disproportionate impact on the family, friends, and loved ones of the person going through the condition, making family therapy or family based treatment important options for overcoming the greater effects of these illnesses.

But if you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder in Alaska, there are options for receiving these types of treatment and other types of therapy that may help.

Types of Eating Disorder Treatment

Eating disorders exist on a spectrum. These conditions, and their related behaviors, may run the gamut from mild to severe, but in any case, finding help is important.

Even those who may be able to better manage their disordered eating behavior may benefit from mental health counseling.

To help ensure those dealing with eating disorders are placed into the appropriate types of programs, there are various levels of care that are generally used to help treat eating disorders.

Virtual Treatment

Virtual eating disorder treatment is the most accessible type of eating disorder care across Alaska. This method of care only requires internet access and a connected device, which is often much easier to come by than the means of transportation to travel great distances through the Last Frontier State.

By utilizing virtual care, a patient can still maintain regular access to their therapist, psychiatrist, nutritionist, and other care team members, as well as attend group therapy and one-on-one counseling sessions. All told, this is often the best option in a place with limited choice.

Virtual Treatment in Alaska

The other benefit of virtual treatment is that it doesn’t need to be tied to a geographic location.

Aside from Bright Heart Health, virtual resources like Within Health offer comprehensive online programs to help patients with eating disorder care.

Within will assign a patient their own individual care team based on their specific case and background. And the company can even make at-home care easier by mailing out medical equipment or pre-planned meals.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is the highest level of care for an eating disorder. These methods are generally reserved for those experiencing a health crisis or considered medically or psychiatrically unstable.

Sometimes just called hospitalization, inpatient treatment may involve intravenous feeding and gives a patient 24/7 access to care. This stage usually lasts only until a patient is considered medically stable and able to progress to lesser intensive types of care.

Inpatient Treatment in Alaska?

There are no specific programs for inpatient eating disorder treatment in Alaska.

If you or a loved one are at a point of medical crisis or considering self-harm, you should call 9-1-1, an eating disorder crisis hotline, or otherwise seek medical help immediately.

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is sometimes confused with inpatient care. Though the two levels are quite different, a patient who has come through inpatient hospitalization will frequently be referred to residential care next.

During this phase of treatment, a patient lives at a treatment facility 24/7, where they likewise have constant access to medical staff and care. Schedules are rigidly enforced and can include any range of therapies, including individual or group therapy sessions, nutrition counseling, consultations with a medical doctor, and other forms of care.

In all, the program can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on a patient’s specific progress and medical history. Aside from those who have been through inpatient treatment, residential care is recommended for severe cases where someone has little to no control over their disordered thoughts and behaviors.

Residential Programs in Alaska

Unfortunately, there are currently no in-state residential programs for eating disorders, according to the Alaska Eating Disorder Alliance (AKEDA). [1] Still, resources are available nationwide.

If an out-of-state option isn’t right for you, you may want to consider other treatment options, including virtual care that’s available to Alaska residents.

Partial Hospitalization Programs

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) represent an in-between type of treatment. They retain much of the structure, schedule, and types of therapy that take place in residential programs, though patients live and sleep at home throughout this level of care.

Still, PHPs can be time-consuming, taking place anywhere from 4-6 days per week for up to 8 hours a day.

This type of hybrid care is best for patients who are ready to start using their new skills and coping strategies outside of a facility setting, but who still need regular help managing their condition or help with specific complications. [2]

Partial Hospitalization Programs in Alaska

While the state has no in-person PHPs, there are a number of virtual PHP options that may be available for Alaska residents.

A full list of programs is provided by the AKEDA.

Intensive Outpatient and Outpatient Treatment Programs (IOP)

Outpatient care describes the point where a patient is living at home and incorporating therapy into their regular schedule of social responsibilities. But within that level of care, the intensity of therapy can range.

Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) represents programs that are longer or take place more frequently. This could include individual therapy sessions that take place several times a week or for longer than regular therapy sessions or the pairing of regular individual and group therapy sessions.

In lower-level outpatient treatment, an individual’s condition doesn’t need daily monitoring. They may maintain regular appointments with their therapist, nutritionist, or other care team members but are otherwise able to manage their eating disorder behaviors and function within society, including at school or work.

Outpatient Care in Alaska

While higher levels of care are rare in the state, Alaska does have a number of options for those seeking outpatient treatment for eating disorders.

Bright Heart Health is one example of an eating disorder treatment center that offers outpatient services. This program incorporates a holistic approach and includes options for virtual care and telemedicine.

Additional Eating Disorder Resources in Alaska

Alaska may be low on physical eating disorder care options, but there are other resources available for residents of the state.

Non-Profit Programs

Nonprofit programs may help provide additional resources and information on eating disorders and where to find the appropriate type of treatment. In Alaska, some of these programs include:

  • Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance: Founded by two Alaska natives, the AKEDA aims to raise awareness of eating disorders in Alaska, and help Alaskans overcome these dangerous conditions. Their program offers family-oriented training courses, events, support, educational information, and more.
  • Better Health Alaska: This Alaska-centric health resource provides valuable information about different mental health conditions, including eating disorders.

Eating Disorder Support Groups

Those looking for additional help dealing with disordered thoughts and behaviors may benefit from joining an eating disorder support group.

Once again, the AKEDA can provide these services for people in-state, including two types of support groups for eating disorders.

The first group is for adults looking for support on their eating disorder recovery journey. The second is a support group aimed at the family and friends of those dealing with an eating disorder.

Dealing With Limited Resources

Eating disorders can be dangerous or potentially deadly conditions, which can make it especially frustrating when dealing with limited resources for care. And while laws have been proposed to open up access to eating disorder training for mental health professionals across the state, the on-the-ground situation remains scattered.

If the options provided by the Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance and Bright Heart Health are not suitable for you or your loved one, the best options may be seeking treatment out of state or using virtual care.

Out-of-state programs are best for those who struggle with more severe conditions and could truly benefit from in-person monitoring and more regular access to care. Still, these programs can be expensive, so it’s important to ensure you have insurance coverage before enrolling.

Otherwise, virtual care may be the most helpful—and cost-efficient—option for those whose symptoms don’t require more intensive monitoring. And a number of free national eating disorder helplines can help provide additional resources and information.

Know When It’s Time to Get Help

Eating disorders are complex conditions that impact someone’s mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.

One common misconception about these illnesses is that they are often easy to spot, particularly when it comes to someone rapidly losing weight. But there are actually a number of different warning signs that may point to a developing disorder, including: [3]

  • Physical signs: Aside from rapid weight loss or weight gain, these can include poor oral health, trouble sleeping, and yellow skin.
  • Emotional signs: Discomfort eating around others, frequent mood swings, and self-isolation are major emotional signs of an eating disorder.
  • Behavioral signs: Anything from skipping meals to hoarding food, frequently going to the bathroom after eating, exercising through illness or injury, or developing strange eating rituals can point to an eating disorder.
  • Co-occurring conditions: Many conditions frequently co-occur with eating disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders of all kinds, and substance use disorders.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any warning signs, you may want to look into the situation further with a professional opinion.

These conditions can be deadly if left untreated, and in the meantime, lead to any number of hardships for both the person struggling and their loved ones. But recovery from an eating disorder is possible.

Taking the first step to seeking treatment can help you get on the path toward a healthier and happier future.


  1. Providers List (Alaska and Outside). (n.d.). Alaska Eating Disorder Alliance. Accessed March 2023.
  2. Levels of Care. (n.d.). National Eating Disorder Association. Accessed March 2023. 
  3. Bulimia Nervosa. (n.d.). Alaska Eating Disorder Alliance. Accessed March 2023.

Last Update | 04 - 3 - 2023

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