How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Mississippi

Mississippi counseling professionals can choose from several credentials to work as licensed substance abuse counselors. Both the state licensing board and a third-party organization issue substance abuse counselor credentials. State board certification requires a master's degree. Applicants for the lowest-level credential offered by the third-party organization, Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals (MAAP), do not need a college education, but upper-level credentials require at least a bachelor's degree.

Prospective substance abuse counselors enjoy strong job prospects. The U.S. Department of Labor projects an 11% increase in jobs for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors through 2026. This guide covers how to become a substance abuse counselor in Mississippi, including education, experience, and certification requirements.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Mississippi

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Mississippi here

Education and Experience Requirements

This section describes the education and experience requirements for substance abuse counselors in Mississippi. Although entry-level certification does not require a college degree, counseling positions increasingly require some postsecondary training.

Academic Requirements

The most basic MAAP credential, certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC), does not require a college education. The CADC I credential requires a bachelor’s degree and the CADC II and certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor (CAADC) credentials require master’s degrees. The CADC II requires a degree in the behavioral sciences, while the CAADC requires a behavioral science degree that includes a clinical component.

To receive Mississippi state board certifications, counselors need to complete a master's in addiction studies or a related behavioral science that emphasizes mental health or human services.

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

Most bachelor's programs comprise 120 credits, while master's programs comprise 60 credits. Applicants for board certifications must hold a master's degree in addiction counseling, addiction studies, or a related behavioral science field. Examples of qualifying fields include family and child studies, health science, psychology, and social work. The state board accepts pastoral ministry, sociology, and other interdisciplinary degrees if they incorporate addiction-focused coursework.

Applicants who earned degrees outside of these areas may qualify if they completed five courses in addiction-related topics, such as counseling and therapy, diagnosis and treatment, and physiology and pharmacology.

Practicum and Supervised Practice

All substance abuse programs require field experiences or practicums, which partially satisfy the experience requirements for certification. Bachelor's programs typically include 350 hours of practical work, while master's degrees often require several hundred hours of supervised clinical experience. All CADC and CAADC certifications require a minimum of 270 hours in addiction counseling practice, including six hours of ethics and six of HIV/AIDs training.

The Exam and Application Process for Mississippi Substance Abuse Counselors

Mississippi administers the PCAT and CAT credentials through its state agency, the Division of Professional Licensure and Certification of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (PLACE). The state also recognizes the CADC, CADC I, CADC II, and CAADC certifications from the MAAP.

PLACE CAT and PCAT Requirements

These credentials require a master's degree, current employment within the state mental health system, a criminal background check and a $75 application fee. Certified addiction therapist (CAT) applicants must pass the Department of Mental Health Addictions Therapy's web-based training component. Full CAT certification requires two years of professional training. The licensing board approves the non-renewable provisionally certified addictions therapist (PCAT) credential for applicants that have not yet fulfilled the two-year training requirement.

MAAP CADC, CADC I, CADC II, and CAADC Requirements

The CADC credential does not require a college education, CADC I requires a bachelor's degree, and CADC II and CAADC require a master's. All candidates must pass a written exam administered by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). CAADC candidates need two years of practical work experience, while CADC candidates need three years, CADC I applicants need four, and CADC II candidates need five. MAAP charges an application processing fee of $130 for members and $190 for nonmembers, and a testing fee of $200 for members and $290 for nonmembers.

Out-of-State Substance Abuse Counselor Candidates

The state board does not currently hold any reciprocity agreements. Individuals with an out-of-state counseling license who wish to earn board certification must submit an application and all required documentation. The board assesses candidates on a case-by-case basis. The state licensing board restricts PLACE certifications to therapists who are actively employed by the Mississippi mental health system.

MAAD offers reciprocal certification for alcohol and substance abuse counselors. As a member of IC&RC, MAAD can authorize reciprocity to certified professionals who hold IC&RC credentials equivalent to CADC and CAADC credentials.

Substance Abuse Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Professionals with CAT credentials through PLACE must renew their certification every four years on September 30 or the closest work day. Renewals require 20 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) each year for a total of 80 hours, including at least two hours on cultural competency and two on professional ethics. The state board charges a $100 renewal fee.

Professionals with MAAP certifications must renew on each two-year anniversary of the certification issuance date. Renewal requires 40 clock hours of CEUs obtained during the two-year period. MAAP charges a $75 recertification fee.

Professionals with CAT credentials through PLACE must renew their certification every four years, while those with MAAP certifications must renew every two years

Resources and Organizations for Substance Abuse Counselors in Mississippi

Candidates interested in learning how to become a substance abuse counselor in Mississippi benefit from exploring professional associations, nonprofits, government agencies, and advocacy groups. These organizations offer many benefits, including continuing education, financial aid, networking, and professional development opportunities.

  • Mississippi Addiction Professionals Association A state affiliate of the Association for Addiction Professionals, this organization offers educational, professional development, and certification opportunities for members. The website also maintains a calendar of relevant events for addiction professionals.
  • Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals MAAP provides education, training, and reciprocal certification in partnership with the IC&RC for prevention specialists, alcohol and drug counselors, clinical supervisors, and other professionals working in chemical dependency.
  • Mississippi Association of Drug Court Professionals Established in 2003, this organization promotes the expansion of drug court programs throughout the state and provides educational and networking opportunities to drug court practitioners. The association sponsors an annual training conference and a job bank.
  • Mississippi Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services This division of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health administers the state's public system of alcohol and drug use prevention and treatment services. These services include state-operated and regional mental health centers and nonprofit community programs for prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.
  • Mississippi Counseling Association A branch of the American Counseling Association, the MCA offers professional development, networking, and continuing education opportunities for Mississippi counselors.
  • Mississippi Licensed Professional Counseling Association The MLPCA partners with the Mississippi Counseling Association and the American Mental Health Counselors' Association to promote the interests of licensed professional counselors.
  • Mississippi Public Health Association As an affiliate of the American Public Health Association, MPHA lobbies to maintain funding for essential health programs, works to develop a well-trained public health workforce, and promotes a culture of health across the state.
  • Mississippi Public Health Institute This nonprofit organization partners with other state and national organizations to develop projects on public health policy evaluation, community health, and health access. It also provides consulting services, training, and technical assistance.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness-Mississippi This state affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness supports families and individuals affected by mental health disorders. It serves Meridian, Vicksburg, Hattiesburg, the Gulf Coast, Tupelo, Oxford, McComb, Yazoo City, and Jackson.
  • StandUp Mississippi This statewide initiative, established in partnership with the Department of Mental Health and other government agencies, develops policies for the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction and works to improve public perception of people struggling with substance abuse disorders.

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