How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Michigan

In Michigan, aspiring substance abuse counselors can take several paths to reach their destinations. To practice in the state, professionals require certification from the Michigan counselor board: Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals (MCBAP). The board offers two credentials: a certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor (CAADC), which requires a master's degree, and a certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC), which does not require a degree.

While these certifications include different requirements, roles, and responsibilities, they both help to make up a larger-than-average workforce and pay higher-than-average wages compared to other states. Deciding which certification to pursue depends on the candidate, but the following information should help with that decision. Read below to learn how to become a substance abuse counselor in Michigan.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Michigan

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Education and Experience Requirements

Due to the difference in responsibilities, the two substance abuse counselor certifications feature unique training requirements. Candidates may start with the CADC certification and advance over time, or they may wish to pursue the CAADC right away. The following information highlights the academic and professional requirements of each certification, along with the potential coursework needed to qualify.

Academic Requirements

While many counseling professions across the country require a bachelor's degree as a minimum, Michigan offers some flexibility in that regard. The state offers two certifications with different academic requirements to provide options for aspiring counselors and improve accessibility. For the CADC certification, candidates don't need degrees, but must take 300 hours of relevant MCBAP-approved training instead.

The CAADC certification, however, requires a relevant master's degree as a minimum. A candidate with another licensure at a master's level, like a psychology or social work license, may also qualify for certification. Like the CADC, much of the education for the CAADC must come from an MCBAP-approved program.

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

As mentioned above, the CADC certification requires each candidate to complete 300 hours of coursework. In total, an applicant must possess 180 hours of substance use disorder-specific training and 120 hours related to alcohol and drug counseling. Furthermore, six of those hours must come from MCBAP-approved, face-to-face ethics training for behavioral health professionals.

For the CAADC certification, along with a master's degree in a field related to counseling, each candidate needs a minimum of 186 education contact hours, plus 180 hours in training specific to substance use disorders. Like the CADC, this advanced certification also requires six hours of MCBAP-approved, face-to-face ethics training.

Practicum and Supervised Practice

To ensure that counseling candidates possess adequate practical experience, the MCBAP requires applicants to complete supervised practice hours in substance use disorder services. For the CADC, each applicant needs 300 hours, while the CAADC requires only 100 hours. These hours must fall under four specific domains: counseling; professional and ethical responsibility; screening, assessment, and engagement; and treatment planning, collaboration, and referral.

The Exam and Application Process for Michigan Substance Abuse Counselors

To receive a substance abuse counselor certification in Michigan, each applicant needs to go through the MCBAP and meet the requirements for each level of certification. All applicants must live or work in Michigan for the majority of their time. Additionally, candidates must complete all components in the 10 years before submitting their applications.

All applicants must live or work in Michigan for the majority of their time

While an applicant does not need a degree for the CADC, they need up to 6,000 hours of relevant work experience. For the CAADC, each applicant needs 2,000 hours of relevant post-master's degree experience. The application process does not ask for letters of recommendation, but supervisors must sign off on many of the application components, like the program information, supervised practicum, and work experience sections.

One of the final elements of the application requires candidates to complete an examination. Offered through the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC), these exams test an applicant's education and knowledge to ensure that they meet industry standards. For the CAADC, candidates take the alcohol and drug counselor examination. For the CAADC, they take the advanced alcohol and drug counselor examination. When submitting their completed applications, each candidate must also submit a $150 application fee.

Out-of-State Substance Abuse Counselor Candidates

In Michigan, out-of-state candidates with licensure from another state may qualify for certification through reciprocity. As a member of IC&RC, Michigan accepts those who received certification in another member state. Similarly, the state may also grant certification to candidates from non-member states, permitted they earned their credentials before 2008.

While MCBAP typically awards certification within 6-8 weeks of receiving an eligible reciprocity application, the board evaluates each application on an individual basis. Applicants should begin the process before moving to Michigan to ensure the reciprocity process goes smoothly.

Substance Abuse Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Certifications from the Michigan counselor board remain valid for two years from the date of issue. Each professional must submit a renewal application and a $145 renewal fee. At this time, they may also choose to renew for three years for a cost of $200. Expired credentials incur a late fee of $25-$100, depending on the number of days since the expiry date.

To qualify for renewal, professionals need to complete a total of 40 hours of continuing education. While 20 of these hours can come from an area of the counselor's choosing, at least 20 hours of the total must reflect a substance use disorder topic.

Certifications from the Michigan counselor board remain valid for two years from the date of issue

Resources and Organizations for Substance Abuse Counselors in Michigan

When it comes to helpful educational and professional information, aspiring substance abuse counselors in Michigan can benefit from many available resources. The following list includes professional associations, national industry organizations, and state-specific resources helpful for aspiring and experienced counselors.

  • American Counseling Association ACA strives to improve the counseling profession through advocacy, helping to educate and develop counselors and encourage more accessible and inclusive treatment services.
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine Representing professionals who work with addiction medicine, ASAM helps support research, improve education, and develop treatment accessibility in local communities.
  • Community Mental Health Association of Michigan CMHAM represents Michigan's mental health centers, community programs, and counseling professionals. The association provides crisis response services, supports state facilities, and ensures that programs follow proper rules and guidelines.
  • Michigan Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, Inc. As the state sector of the Association for Addiction Professionals, MAADAC supports the state's addiction professionals through educational resources, mentoring opportunities, and policy development.
  • Michigan Board of Counseling Through the licensing and regulatory affairs, the Michigan Board of Counseling offers resources on counseling in the state. Visitors can find information about licensing rules and regulations, frequently asked questions, and board meeting information.
  • Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals As the credentialing authority in Michigan for substance abuse counselors, MCBAP ensures that treatment and prevention professionals uphold state and industry standards. The organization provides access to educational and professional resources.
  • Michigan Counseling Association Dedicated to growing and developing the counseling profession, MCA supports its members with educational and professional development resources. The association also seeks to improve services, professional standards, and public awareness.
  • National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers NAATP unites all addiction treatment professionals to advocate for improved laws and policies in the profession. It also provides operational resources and best practices.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA seeks to improve the nation's behavioral health through public awareness and education initiatives.
  • Upper Midwest Indian Council on Addictive Disorders UMICAD works with certified counselors looking to support the Indian population. The organization offers certification for professionals who understand the standards set out by the Indian Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse program.

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