Alcohol and Drug Counselor License Requirements in New Jersey: Becoming a CADC and LADC in New Jersey

New Jersey substance abuse counselors are licensed by the State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners under advisement of the New Jersey Alcohol and Drug Counselor Committee.

A practitioner must hold licensing unless he or she falls into an exemption category outlined in state statute. Licensing may be required by the employer even in instances where it is not a legal mandate.

There are different levels of licensure, attainable by individuals with differing levels of education. Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) is a master's level credential. Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) does not require a degree. It is an option to achieve CADC credentialing first, then upgrade to LADC.

The New Jersey Addiction Professionals Certification Board is the local Certification and Reciprocity Consortium of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (IC&RC) member; applicants will go through the Certification Board to meet and/ or document some requirements.

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CADC Requirements

A CADC applicant will need to document, at minimum, high school graduation or equivalency.

The individual will need 270 hours of drug and alcohol education. The education may be completed through a regionally accredited institution, but it does not have to be. The Board can also accept education that has been approved by the Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) or by IC&RC member boards.

The 270 hours is divided into five content areas of 54 hours each. Each content area includes some required topics. The additional hours may be met through electives.

Each of the following assessment topics is to be represented by six hours of study:

  • The initial interviewing process
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Physiology of addiction/ pharmacology
  • Biosocial assessment
  • Diagnostic summaries
  • Compulsive gambling

Another 54 hours is to be devoted to case management. Each of the following must be represented:

  • Community resources
  • Consultation
  • Documentation
  • HIV resources

The other required content areas are counseling, client education, and professional responsibility.

The prospective licensee will need at least two years of experience. 1,500 hours of experience, earned over a 50 week period, can be credited as a full-time year. It is acceptable to work part-time, but the Board credits experience only if it was accrued during the five-year time period preceding application. The New Jersey Committee does not allow academic degrees to substitute for supervised experience.

The Board requires 300 hours of supervised practical training. The training will cover the 12 core alcohol and drug counselor functions.

Interns submit paperwork at the onset of supervision (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/adc/Pages/contactus.aspx).

Prospective licensees must attend a total of 30 self-help meetings, including five each of the following: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and AlAnon.

LADC Requirements

A prospective LADC will need to earn a master's degree through an accredited institution. The degree will be in counseling or in an addiction- or counseling-related field. If the degree is in a related field, it will need to include at least 18 semester hours of graduate counseling coursework. The required counseling coursework can be distributed across the following areas:

  • The helping relationship
  • The counseling profession
  • Counseling theory and practice
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Human growth and development/ maladaptive behavior
  • Assessment of individuals
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Research and evaluation
  • Groups
  • Pharmacology and physiology

A person is allowed to complete credit hours outside his or her degree program to meet licensing requirements.

Some requirements are the same at the CADC and LADC levels. A prospective LADC must also have 300 hours of supervised practical training. He or she must attend 30 self-help meetings and complete the equivalent of two years of full-time experience.

A CADC can upgrade to LADC by submitting an upgrade application with documentation of education.

The Examination Process

A candidate will take the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) examination. Application approval is required before examination. The New Jersey Certification Board, the local IC&RC board, provides examinations. Candidates can turn to the website for information but cannot register for the ADC without pre-approval.

The candidate will need to take an oral examination based on a case presentation. Instructions for the preparing the case study can be found on the Certification Board website (http://certbd.org/testing/oral-test-questions/).

An applicant is expected to pass the required examinations within a year of being notified of eligibility.

The Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from the website of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/adc/Pages/applications.aspx). The applicant will need to attest to having read applicable laws and rules.

Multiple documents are required to document qualifying experience. The Board will require a job description, program description, supervisor evaluation, and resumes of both supervisor and supervisee.

The application packet also includes materials for documenting practical training, attendance at self-help meetings, and education. Other educational documentation may be required; this depends on individual circumstances.

The Board will carry out a background check. In most cases, the applicant must be fingerprinted. If the applicant has been fingerprinted as part of the credentialing process for another Board or Committee that is under the banner of the Division of Consumer Affairs, this step may not be necessary. Paperwork is found in the application packet.

The application fee is $75. The initial credentialing fee will vary, depending on the level of credentialing and the stage of the two-year recertification cycle.

Special Cases: Healthcare and Military-Based Training

The Board can consider education and training completed in the military. The applicant will need to provide a copy of the Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET). The licensing agency will need a transcript of education that does not meet the standard education requirement. Partial credit may be granted if, after review, substantial equivalence is not demonstrated.

A healthcare provider with equivalent education, training, and experience can be licensed without examination. Requirements for healthcare providers and military-trained applicants are described in Chapter 34C of Title 13 of New Jersey Administrative Code (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/adc/Pages/regulations.aspx).

Out-of-State Substance Abuse Counselors

Licensure can be granted to substance abuse counselors from other jurisdictions if requirements are determined to have been substantially similar.

Substance abuse counselors who have been certified by IC&RC boards can use documentation by the New Jersey Certification Board en lieu of direct documentation of some requirements.

Additional Information

Information about licensure and certification is available from the New Jersey Alcohol and Drug Counselor Committee (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/adc/Pages/default.aspx). The Committee can be reached by email contact form (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/adc/Pages/contactus.aspx).

The New Jersey Certification Board can provide information about examinations and transcript review for licensees (http://certbd.org/). The Certification Board also offers other related certifications, including Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Spanish Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and Certified Co-occurring Disorder Professional.

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