Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification and License Requirements in Kentucky

Kentucky substance abuse counselors are credentialed by a governmental entity, the Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors, or ADC Board. Individuals may hold licensing, certification, or registration, depending on their background. Master's level practitioners hold licensing while bachelor's level practitioners hold certification. Individuals may be registered as peer support specialists with education at the level of high school graduation. In all cases, a person must be at least 18 years of age to hold a credential.

New regulations went into effect in 2015 for some license categories. The grandfathering period will end in 2016.

Standards are, to a large degree, those utilized by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (IC&RC). In order to be eligible for credentialing by the Kentucky ADC Board, a person must live or work a majority of the time in Kentucky – this is a standard requirement of IC&RC member boards.

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Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) Requirements

A Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) will need a master's or doctoral degree in a behavioral science field; the degree program must include clinical application. There are three ways to meet standards:

  • 60 semester hour master's degree
  • 30 semester hour advanced placement master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

The prospective LCADC will need 180 classroom hours of board-approved education specific to the alcohol and drug counseling role.

The Board mandates six hours of ethics, three hours of domestic violence, and two hours of HIV training. The prospective licensee will also need a Board-approved training program in suicide assessment, treatment, and management. The course will be at least six hours.

The prospective licensee will take the ‘advanced’ level IC&RC examination.

The prospective LCADC will accrue 2,000 hours of experience with 300 under direct supervision. While meeting experience requirements, the individual will hold licensing as a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor Associate (LCADCA). He or she will work under Board-approved supervision. LCADCAs are subject to annual supervision reports. The ADC Board has provided a list of approved supervisors; it is linked from the main page of the Board website.

A licensee who holds a master’s that is not 60 hours and does not qualify as a 30-hour advanced placement degree will need to submit his or her grandfathering application prior to August 24, 2016. Grandfathering can only be granted to those who were certified prior to June 24, 2016.

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) Requirements

A Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) will need to hold a degree at at least the baccalaureate level. The prospective certificate holder will need at least 270 hours of approved education. Requirements for ethics, domestic violence, AIDS, and suicide prevention training are on a par with those required for licensing.

The counselor will complete 6,000 hours of approved experience. At this level, it is acceptable to be supervised by a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor who meets the Board's experience requirements. While meeting experience requirements, the individual will be certified as a Temporary Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, or Temporary CADC.

A candidate will need to pass an examination approved by the IC&RC.

Registered Alcohol and Drug Peer Support Specialist Requirements

A person who has himself or herself been in recovery for two or more years is eligible for registration as a Registered Alcohol and Drug Peer Support Specialist provided that other requirements are met. The Board mandates 60 hours of relevant education. The experience requirement is 500 hours; the ethics requirement, 16. There is an examination. While attaining experience, the person will be a Temporary Registered Alcohol and Drug Peer Support Specialist.


An out-of-state alcohol and drug counselor or peer support specialist who holds a valid credential can be credentialed by reciprocity provided that the requirements of the other state are substantially equivalent to those of Kentucky.

The out-of-state licensee or certificate holder will need to be familiar with relevant Kentucky statutes.

The Application Process

Under new regulations, prospective substance abuse counselors make application before meeting supervised practice requirements. Applicants for temporary or associate level credentials file supervisory agreements.

The application process is online. The applicant will begin by creating an account (

Applicants will need some third party documents, including letters of reference from licensees or certificate holders.

The application fee is $50. Examination and credentialing fees vary by level ( A CADC pays a $200 examination fee and $200 credentialing fee. Re-examination costs an additional $200. At the LCADC/LCADCA level, the credentialing fee increases to $300.

Applications are reviewed at Board meetings. A list of upcoming meetings is available on the Board website. Materials will need to be received at least ten days in advance of a meeting.

Credentials must be renewed every three years.

Additional Information

Licensing information is available from the Kentucky Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors ( Unanswered questions may be addressed in an email to the Board Administrator. The Board can be reached by telephone at 502-782-8814.

The governing law is found in Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 309 (

The Kentucky Association of Addiction Professionals is the state chapter of a national professional association, the Association of Addiction Professionals, or NAADAC (

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