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How to Become a Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor (LADC)

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Licensed alcohol and drug counselors, or LADCs, in the United States are certified through individual state licensing boards. Policies and requirements vary from state to state, but all states require significant education and experience before candidates can apply for a license. Some states also offer a lower-level certification of certified alcohol and drug counselor. LADCs observe and evaluate the behavior of individuals struggling with addiction and attempt to modify those behaviors. LADCs work in hospitals, government clinics, detox facilities, correctional facilities and private treatment centers.

Get a university degree in behavioral science or counseling. Some states require a bachelor’s degree, while others require a master’s degree. Your degree must include significant study in human behavior, addictions or counseling. Check with your state's licensing board to get a list of approved and accredited education programs.

Complete a practicum. This practicum, where you will assist in an alcohol and drug counseling environment, is often connected to university or college education programs. Practicum requirements vary from state to state but generally entail several hundred hours.

Pass your LADC examination. Some, but not all, states have an examination process. In many cases, you can begin working under a temporary license as you wait to write your examinations.

Gain experience under supervision. You must gain work experience under an experienced LADC before you can apply for a permanent license. Expect to have to spend one to three years working under an LADC before you can apply for a license. During this period, you may be asked to meet regularly with a member of your state licensing board for interviews regarding your progress.

Apply to your state licensing board for a permanent license. With your application, you must include education transcripts and documents confirming your completion of practicum and work-experience hours. You may also be asked questions about your past criminal history and character.


Richard Long is an English teacher in Toronto, Canada and has been writing for over five years. He has had work published in "Geist" and "Speak2Me" magazines and is currently completing a certificate in technical communication from George Brown College.

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