Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements in Delaware

A Delaware substance abuse counselor will generally hold third party credentials. The state of Delaware licenses master's level chemical dependency professionals, but a person can work as a substance abuse counselor for a private or governmental employer without holding this license.

Delaware Health and Human Services (DHHS) has set standards for counselors who are employed by Delaware-licensed substance abuse facilities. The Delaware state government recognizes Counselor I and Counselor II statuses. In Delaware, Counselor I is a higher designation than Counselor II. A substance abuse counselor can be designated as a Counselor II while working to meet requirements for Counselor I status.

Substance abuse counselors who are beginning their careers in Delaware will generally go through the Delaware Certification Board for their certification; the DCB is a nongovernmental organization that is a member of the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC & RC). Counselors can also qualify at the Counselor I level on the basis of national certification or on the basis of having sufficient experience within the field.

Delaware allows substance abuse counselors to work under Counselor II status if they are fulfilling requirements for DCB certification or national certification, are enrolled in qualifying internships or practicums, or have been in the field for less than five years.

Certification through the Certification Board does not require a college degree. However, degreed counselors can earn their certification more quickly. Additionally, some Delaware employers do state “bachelor’s preferred”.

A master’s level counselor will generally also qualify for credentialing through the Delaware Certification Board before he or she qualifies for state licensure. Advanced planning, though, can mean earning both DCB certification and licensure within a relatively short time period.

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Achieving Initial Credentialing through the Delaware Certification Board

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) is a reciprocal certification through the IC & RC. The prospective CADC will need 270 hours of education relevant to IC & RC domains. The Certification Board notes that a three unit college course equals 45 hours. Other types of formal education (for example, seminars) can be credited.

The CADC is also dependent on completing a period of supervised practice. Counselors with no academic degree will need to work a full three years (6,000 hours) before they can achieve CADC status. The requirement becomes 5,000 with an associate's degree. A baccalaureate degree can reduce it to 4,000; a master’s, 2,000.

Supervision requirements are also dependent on degree level. The requirement may range from 100 hours (with a master’s degree) to 300 hours (with no degree).

The prospective CADC will take a certification examination. The Certification Board reports that examinations are available on an ongoing basis.

There is a $350 certification fee.

CADCs recertify every two years. They must meet a continuing education requirement.

Clinical supervisor represents a step up from counselor. In a 2012 document, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors categorized the Delaware Certified Clinical Counselor credential as the equivalent of ‘Level 4’ on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) career ladder.

The CCS will need either a qualifying certification or a master’s degree in behavior health. He or she will need five years of alcohol and drug experience with two years spent carrying out supervisory duties.

Achieving Licensure as a Chemical Dependency Professional

A prospective Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional will need to earn a master's degree. He or she will need to demonstrate no fewer than 30 semester hours in counseling or in fields closely related to counseling.

The prospective licensee will also need to accrue 3,200 hours of post-master experience. Half the required hours must be supervised by a Chemical Dependency Professional. The supervisee will have at least 100 hours of face-to-face supervision.

The applicant may apply by reciprocity or certification. A certification applicant can present certification at the Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) or National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC) level through the Association of Addiction Counselors (NAADAC) or at the CADC level through the IC & RC; other certifications may be given consideration. An otherwise qualified candidate can qualify by passing the IC&RC Examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors – the same examination that is typically taken for credentialing through the Delaware Certification Board.

Chemical dependency professionals can be licensed in Delaware on the basis of out-of-state licenses that were granted on the basis of substantially similar requirements. If the requirements were not substantially similar, the professional may be licensed on the basis of five years of experience (or a qualifying certification).

Application forms can be downloaded from the website of the Division of Professional Regulation ( The applicant will need to have a fingerprint-based background check. The licensing division requires certification applicants to provide documentation of degree and post-degree supervised experience as well as certification. Applicants must verify the status of any other mental health licenses they hold or have held. Applications are to be submitted with a $221 fee.

Licenses are renewed every other year.

Additional Information

Information about certification as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor is available from the Delaware Certification Board ( The DCB can be reached by email at ‘info at’ or by telephone at (717) 540-4456.

Requirements for counselors employed in licensed facilities are described in Title 16 of administrative code.

Information about licensure as a Chemical Dependency Professional is available from the Delaware Division of Professional Licensing ( Requirements are described in Title 24 ( The Information Center can be reached by email at ‘customerservice.dpr at’ or by telephone at (302) 744-4500.

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