Substance abuse counselors help individuals and communities find the best way to fight addiction, particularly alcohol and drug addiction. They serve an important role and offer services that can change their clients' lives.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that 1,600 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors worked in Kansas in 2018. The BLS projects a 23% growth in this job sector nationwide from 2016-2026, which is faster than the national average.
Aspiring substance abuse counselors must take several steps to achieve licensure. These requirements include a rigorous education and many hours of practical experience. Each state maintains different expectations, so candidates must research specific standards.
Keep reading to learn about how to become a substance abuse counselor in Kansas and explore resources for pursuing a Kansas counseling career.
Counseling License and Career Requirements in KansasExplore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Kansas here
Education and Experience Requirements
Substance abuse counselors must meet certain educational requirements set by the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board to achieve licensure in Kansas. The following sections contain information on degree requirements, specific coursework examples, and details on practicums, internships, and supervised practice.
Unlike many states, the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board in Kansas only requires a bachelor's degree in counseling instead of a master's degree for the lowest level of licensure. However, the degree must have 33 credit hours of addiction-specific counseling coursework, as defined by the board's regulations. The Kansas counselor board does not specify if students must attend an accredited institution, but stipulates that the school must be board-approved.
Individuals can explore many undergraduate programs for general counseling and addiction counseling across the country. Students must determine which program suits their needs and whether it would be best to pursue onsite learning or online learning.
Interested in pursuing an education in substance abuse counseling? See the following pages to learn about counseling academic programs by level:
Substance Abuse Counseling Coursework
A bachelor's degree — including a bachelor's in addiction counseling — typically takes 120 credits to complete. Aspiring substance abuse counselors in Kansas need at least 33 of these credits to be addiction-specific coursework.
Sample courses for a bachelor's in addiction counseling include psychology of addiction counseling, ethics, counseling skills, diversity in counseling, and assessment procedures in addiction counseling. Students considering graduate school should check admission requirements and determine what these programs require in terms of minimum GPA, accreditation, and practical experience.
Practicum and Supervised Practice
While many master's programs in counseling require a practicum or internship, not all bachelor's programs do. The Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board mandates that students complete a six-credit practicum that includes intake and assessment, treatment planning, counseling, case management, documentation, and discharge planning. In total, students need 400 hours of experience to qualify for licensure.
The Exam and Application Process for Kansas Substance Abuse Counselors
The Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board licenses all substance abuse candidates in Kansas. The lowest level of license is the licensed addiction counselor (LAC).
Candidates may continue on to licensed master's addiction counselor (LMAC) or licensed clinical addiction counselor (LCAC) after completing additional requirements. Both LMAC and LCAC licenses require a master's degree in addiction counseling or a related field and more hours of field experience.
Candidates for the LAC must pass an exam administered by the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), which takes place four times a year. Applicants must submit a licensure application to the board at least eight weeks before the testing date.
Bachelor's degree in addiction counseling or a related field, including 33 credits of addiction-related coursework
Six credit hours of practicum
400 hours of experience
Official proof of passing the NAADAC examination, called the NCAC II; candidates who previously passed the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) exam do not need to sit for the NCAC II exam
Successful background check
Online application form
$50 application fee
$150 examination fee
$100 original license fee
Out-of-State Substance Abuse Counselor Candidates
Kansas does not have reciprocity with any specific state, but the board allows licensure through reciprocity with the following stipulations:
- Current state of licensure has substantially equivalent requirements to those in Kansas
- Current licensure is in good standing
- Candidate kept up continuous licensure and practice as an addiction counselor for the last five years, working an average of at least 15 hours each week for nine months during each of the five years
- Candidate completed at least a bachelor's degree in addiction counseling or a related field
Candidates who do not meet these requirements may need to follow the regular path to licensure.
Substance Abuse Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements
Substance abuse counselors must renew their LAC licenses every two years. The Kansas counselor board requires 30 hours of continuing education related to addiction counseling, including three hours of professional ethics, for renewals.
The board does not pre-approve any particular programs. If the presentation, workshop, or seminar relates to the enhancement of addiction counseling practice, values, skills, and knowledge, consider it acceptable.
The board does not allow extensions. Any counselors who miss the deadline must fully reinstate their licenses.
Substance abuse counselors must renew their LAC licenses every two years
Resources and Organizations for Substance Abuse Counselors in Kansas
Professional organizations exist to help substance abuse counseling students and professionals network with peers, keep current with research and methodology, and provide continuing education resources. These groups also help advance careers, offer advocacy resources, and provide a forum for like-minded individuals to exchange information. See below for 10 professional organizations dedicated to substance abuse counselors.
- Addiction Technology Transfer Center A peer network designed for addiction professionals across borders and disciplines, ATTC provides continuing education training events, message boards, and interactive online resources.
- American College Counseling Association ACCA represents professionals in counseling, psychology, and social work who work in higher education institutions. The association welcomes both professionals and students, along with counselor educators and supervisors.
- American Society of Addiction Medicine ASAM is a membership organization that promotes education and advocacy. The society offers an e-learning center and provides publications, clinical resources, and advocacy toolkits.
- International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors Membership in this organization includes professional substance abuse and addiction counselors, corrections counselors, and students. IAAOC works to advance treatment methods for addicts and criminal offenders.
- Kansas Association of Addiction Professionals Kansas' largest addiction services trade organization, KAAP provides advocacy and support to members to improve addiction treatment and prevention.
- National Employment Counseling Association An organization dedicated to career advancement, NECA offers employment services for counselors, counselor educators, and direct service professionals.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA conducts research on the impact of alcohol use on human health. The organization collaborates with other research institutes on the national and international levels.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA supports clinical research on drug use, its consequences, and the underlying causes of addiction. The organization dedicates itself to implementing and disseminating these research findings for addiction professionals.
- Society of Addiction Psychology SoAP's scope of interest includes alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs; gambling; and eating disorders. The society helps promote research, professional training, and clinical practice for counselors.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration The SAMHSA opioid overdose prevention toolkit supplies substance abuse counselors with strategies for developing preventative opioid-related practices. Counselors can view reports of prescribers, patients, families, and community members.