Addiction Counselor Registration, Certification and Licensure Requirements in Louisiana

Louisiana substance abuse counselors are credentialed by Addiction Disorder Regulatory Authority, a governmental entity. There are three levels of addiction counselor credentialing. The distinction is made based on academic level. A Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) has education at the master's or doctoral level. A Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) has education at the bachelor's level. A Registered Addiction Counselor (RAC) has education at least at the level of high school graduation; an associate degree will reduce the experience requirement slightly.

Louisiana ADRA also credentials entry-level workers as Addiction Treatment Assistants and experienced ones as Certified Clinical Supervisors. As such, Louisiana may be considered to have license categories corresponding, at least roughly, to all levels of the SAMHSA Consensus Group Career Ladder and Scope of Practice.

Addiction counselors must meet examination and experience requirements. They must also meet general eligibility requirements. They cannot have had substance abuse problems themselves during the prior two years; this is also a requirement for entry-level credentialing as a Counselor-in-Training (CIT). Felonies are disqualifying but the ADRA can consider granting waivers.

Counselors must be at least 21 years of age. However, a person may become a Counselor-in-Training as young as age 18. Addiction Treatment Assistants (ATAs), moreover, may be credentialed as young as age 16. In order to be credentialed at the ATA level, a person must have been free of substance abuse problems for at least six months.

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Degree Requirements for Certified and Licensed Addiction Counselors

In order to fulfill CAC or LAC requirements, degrees must be earned through accredited institutions. The degree does not need to be in substance abuse counseling per se, but should be in a related field. The following are considered behavioral health or human service (http://www.la-adra.org/index.php/faq-test/97-general-questions):

  • Addiction studies
  • Behavioral health
  • Counseling
  • Criminal justice
  • Educational counseling
  • Health administration
  • Psychology
  • Public health
  • Public policy/ public administration
  • Rehabilitation counseling
  • Social work
  • Sociology

Other degrees may be accepted as comparable and credential-qualifying following a review of coursework.

Although CACs and LACs are expected to have degrees in human service fields, the regulatory authority can consider requests for waiver. Decisions about waiver are made in consultation with a representative of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). A CAC or LAC whose degree is not in human services will need additional experience beyond that that is normally required.

Those wishing to pursue degree programs specifically in addictions can consult the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network (ATTC) list (http://attcnetwork.org/addiction-programs/search.aspx).

Addiction-Related Coursework Requirement

Whatever the qualifying degree (if any), the counselor must have some education that supports the addiction counseling job role. Education is to be formal and structured but will not necessarily consist of college or university coursework; various types of course, including workshops, institutes, distance learning, and even in-service may be credited. At least 180 hours must be specific to addictions. An additional 90 hours of related coursework are required. While these hours may not pertain specifically to addiction counseling, they are subject to approval by the regulatory authority.

A person must complete the required 180 hours of addiction-specific coursework before beginning work as a Counselor-in-Training.

Work Experience Requirements

Substance abuse professionals work toward full credentialing while holding CIT status. The work experience period for ‘counselor’ designations is reduced based on degree. A Licensed Addiction Counselor has a work experience requirement two years less than that of a Registered Addiction Counselor.

Registered Addiction Counselors have a 6,000 hour work experience requirement, the equivalent of three full-time years. Certified Addiction Counselors have a 4,000 hour requirement; Licensed Addiction Counselors, just 2,000 hours. A prospective RAC with an associate degree can have his or her experience period shortened by 1,000 hours. In each case, a 300 hour practicum must be included within the total requirement. The practicum will focus on core alcohol and drug abuse counseling functions and global criteria. It will include at least 20 hours in each of the core functions.

CIT status is renewed annually. A person may hold CIT status for up to six years.

The Examination Process

Examinations are those developed by the IC&RC. The regulatory authority has provided a link to IC&RC candidate guides at both the ADC and advanced levels. The advanced examination is for master’s level practitioners; the basic ADC examination is intended for individuals with varying levels of education.

Currently, examinees have a choice between computer-delivered and pencil-and-paper formats. Pencil-and-paper examinations are administered in Louisiana just four times a year, in Baton Rouge. Computer-delivered examinations are made available at ISO-Quality Testing centers (http://www.isoqualitytesting.com/locations.aspx). In the spring of 2017, the LASACT Office will cease to offer the paper-and-pencil test.

Reciprocity

Alcohol and drug counselors from other IC&RC jurisdictions may follow IC&RC reciprocity procedures. Those who are not eligible for IC&RC reciprocity may be granted reciprocity if they hold current certificates and can demonstrate that they are based on substantially similar requirements.

The Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from the ADRA website (http://www.la-adra.org/index.php/forms-and-payment). The applicant should be prepared to pay a fee at this time. For initial applicants, the fee is $186. Reciprocity applicants pay $236.

Renewal applicants document 48 continuing education hours.

Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS) Requirements

Addiction counselors may advance to become clinical supervisors. At least 10,000 hours of experience will be necessary; this is the equivalent of five full-time years. At least 4,000 experience hours must be in supervision.

The clinical supervisor will need at least 30 hours of education focused on clinical supervision domains. Degrees are not required for supervisor status.

Additional Information

Information about substance abuse counseling requirements is available from the Louisiana Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority (http://www.la-adra.org/). The Addictive Disorder Regulatory Authority can be reached by telephone at (225) 361-0698; currently, telephone hours are between 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM. Additional contact information can be found online (http://www.la-adra.org/index.php/contact-info).

The Louisiana Association of Addiction and Offender Counselors (http://www.laaoc.org) and the Louisiana Association of Addiction Professionals (http://www.naadac.org/louisiana) are additional professional resources.

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