Substance Abuse Counselor Certification and Licensure in Maine

Maine substance abuse counselors are licensed by the Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors. They may have different credentials depending on their career goals.

The Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors issues the following licenses:

  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)
  • Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC)
  • Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)

A Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor works in agency settings. A Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, unlike a CADC, is authorized to go into private practice. An LADC can also become a CCS and take on supervisory duties. (So can mental health professionals from other disciplines.)

A person can qualify as a CADC through either education or experience. An LADC will need some experience; the amount depends on educational level.

A person can begin work as an Alcohol and Drug Counseling Aide. An Alcohol and Drug Counseling Aide must be a high school graduate or GED holder who has attained the age of at least 18. Aide status is granted only after employment. A person registered as an aide must notify the board of any change in employment.

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Becoming a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor

A person can become a CADC through either of two pathways. One emphasizes higher education; the other, supervised experience.

In order to qualify by higher education, the degree (or coursework) must be in a relevant field. A person can qualify on the basis of a degree at the associate level or higher or on the basis of 30 or more hours of coursework drawn from relevant fields. The degree (or qualifying coursework) must be earned through an accredited institution.

The following degrees can be accepted:

  • Addiction counseling
  • Childhood development
  • Clinically based behavioral sciences
  • Counseling
  • Education and human development
  • Educational psychology/ psychology
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Social work

If the person seeks credentialing on the basis of coursework, he or she will need at least 30 semester hours in content areas identified in the rules ( The following are among the subjects that can be credited:

  • Addiction and the family
  • Case management
  • Chemical dependency
  • Cultural competency/ diversity
  • Crisis identification and intervention
  • Introduction to community mental health
  • Sexual abuse, trauma, and recovery
  • Substance abuse counseling for special populations
  • Vocational aspects and disability

The Board has specifically stated that the substance abuse technician and mental health rehabilitation technician certificates issued by the University of Maine are acceptable, as is the mental health rehabilitation technician certificate issued by the University of Southern Maine.

A person who seeks a degree in substance abuse counseling may wish to consult the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network directory (

A person can also qualify on the basis of experience. The Board will require 4,000 hours. At least three of the following must be included:

  • Case management
  • Client and family education
  • Clinical evaluation (intake screening, differential assessment)
  • Individual, group, couple, or family counseling
  • Treatment planning

In order to be credited, experience must be supervised at the rate of one hour for every 20 direct client contact hours.

Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor Requirements

A person can become an LADC with any level of education from high school graduation on. A person who does not have a qualifying degree will need 6,000 hours of experience. With an associate or baccalaureate degree in a qualifying field, the requirement is reduced to 4,000 hours. With a master’s degree, the requirement is reduced to 2,000 hours. Qualifying degrees at the LADC level are the same as at the CADC level.

The Examination and Application Process

The Maine Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors utilizes examinations developed by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). CADCs take the Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) examination. To achieve the LADC license, a professional must pass both the ADC examination and the Advanced ADC examination. CCSs must pass the Clinical Supervisor (CS) examination.

The Board uses an online application process. Applicant still, however, have the option of downloading paper forms (

There are two steps to the application process. Candidates apply for examination, then apply for licensure after they have passed. Education is documented at the pre-examination stage.

The licensing agency will seek a motor vehicle report.

Out-of-state practitioners must provide licensure from each state where they have held licensing.

Licenses are renewed every two years. Alcohol and Drug Counseling Aides are responsible for completing 12 hours of continuing education. The requirement becomes 24 hours at the CADC level and 36 hours at the LADC level. Supervisory certification comes with a 12 hour continuing education obligation; thus, a person credentialed as an LADC and CCS will need to accrue 48 hours.

Additional Information

Licensing information is available from the Maine Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation ( The Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation can be reached by telephone at (207) 624-8689. Alcohol and Drug Licensing can be reached by email at 'alcoholdrug.lic at'.

State regulations describe minimum requirements for staffing. These may vary slightly based on type of program ( The document states, for example, that freestanding residential detoxification programs will have "appropriately credentialed alcohol and drug counselors".

The Maine Association for Addiction Professionals is a state professional association (

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