How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Missouri

Substance abuse counselors help people struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction. The demand for these professionals is increasing, and the number of substance abuse counselors is projected to rise 23% between 2016 and 2026 — much faster than average — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

To become a substance abuse counselor in Missouri, candidates need to earn a credential from the Missouri Credentialing Board. Missouri offers several levels of credentialing for this occupation, including:

  • Missouri Associate Alcohol Drug Counselor I & II (MAADC I & II)
  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)
  • Certified Reciprocal Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CRADC)
  • Certified Reciprocal Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CRAADC)
  • Registered Alcohol Drug Counselor - Provisional (RADC-P)

Requirements for each of these certification levels varies. This guide outlines what to expect to encounter while pursuing these credentials and provides additional resources for substance abuse counselors. Keep reading to learn how to become a substance abuse counselor in Missouri.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Missouri

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Missouri here

Education and Experience Requirements

Because Missouri offers several levels of substance abuse counselor credentials, education and experience requirements differ. Some levels allow candidates to receive certification with a high school degree and some professional experience, while other credentials require applicants to hold a master's degree. The following section outlines these details.

Academic Requirements

For the CRADC, CACD, and MAADC I and II credentials, candidates with a sufficient number of professional hours can apply with only a high school diploma. Generally, applicants with higher educational levels (postsecondary certificates or degrees) need less professional experience to qualify.

At the next level, RADC-P candidates need at least a bachelor's degree. Finally, at the level with the most stringent requirements, CRAADC candidates need at least a master's degree. All degree-granting colleges and universities must hold accreditation. This resource provides more information about bachelor's and master's degrees in counseling.

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

Missouri's counseling requirements allow aspiring substance abuse counselors to apply for credentials with several major types: psychology, social work, criminal justice, communication, sociology, and counseling, among others. Missouri accepts associate degrees with 90 contact hours of education, bachelor's degrees with 300 contact hours, and master's degrees with 180 contact hours. These contact hours may include normal classes, workshops, seminars, and online courses.

The state also dictates that all candidates complete ethics courses on campus rather than online. The CRAADC, CRADC, and CADC credentials require students to earn six contact hours of ethics courses, while the other designations only require three hours.

Practicum and Supervised Practice

Most substance abuse counseling credentials require students to complete 300 supervised practicum hours. Only the RADC-P and MAADC I certifications do not include this requirement. Instead, the RADC-P credential demands 4,000-6,000 hours of applicable work experience, depending on a candidate's education level. Approximately 70% of those hours must involve the counseling field in some way. The MAADC I credential requires candidates to hold at least 160 hours of applicable work experience.

The Exam and Application Process for Missouri Substance Abuse Counselors

The Missouri Credentialing Board outlines several other requirements beyond education and practicum hours; these also depend on an individual's target credential and degree level.

The CRAADC, CRADC, and CADC credentials all require candidates to pass the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) examination given by the International Credentialing and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). This exam covers four domains: screening, assessment, and engagement; treatment planning, collaboration, and referral; counseling and education; and professional and ethical responsibilities. Candidates can find study materials to help them prepare for the exam on the IC&RC website.

The CRAADC, CRADC, and CADC credentials all require candidates to pass the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) examination

Candidates for most credentials (except for the RADC-P) must submit a competency form signed by a supervisor who has been approved by the Missouri Credentialing Board. Typically, applicants must have completed 1,000-6,000 hours of applicable work experience — that is, work experience relating to substance abuse recovery — within the past decade.

In terms of application materials, candidates must fill out the application, send in transcripts, and submit documentation of their practicum hours and professional work experience. They also pay a fee, which can be as much as $400. They should also sign a copy of Missouri's Code of Ethical Practice & Professional Conduct. Finally, they must fill out the Family Care Safety Registry Worker Registration Form to undergo a background check.

Out-of-state Substance Abuse Counselor Candidates

Individuals applying for a Missouri counseling credential from out of state need to meet the same requirements as in-state candidates. The reciprocity standards for the AADC exam work across state lines. Therefore, applicants aiming for CRAADC, CRADC, or CADC credentials do not need to take another test if they already passed the AADC exam.

Similarly, candidates coming into Missouri with accredited degrees in one of the state's approved programs do not need to retake any courses. Out-of-state candidates need to send in the same application and qualifying documents as their Missouri peers.

Substance Abuse Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

After they move into the professional world, substance abuse counselors need to renew their credentials every two years. The specifics of renewal depend on a worker's credential level. Generally, however, professionals need to complete 40 continuing education hours. Counselors may enroll in 34 hours through distance learning, but they must attend six hours of ethics courses in person. The Missouri Credentialing Board offers several courses that count toward continuing education requirements.

Counseling professionals can renew their credentials by filling out the same forms they completed during the initial credentialing application. They should also provide documentation of their continuing education hours.

Missouri substance abuse counselors need to renew their credentials every two years

Resources and Organizations for Substance Abuse Counselors in Missouri

The substance abuse field features several resources that can help counselors as they apply for their credentials and begin working. The list below includes relevant professional associations, government organizations, nonprofit groups, and publications. In addition to publishing helpful materials and data reports, some of these groups also provide continuing education opportunities for working professionals.

  • Advances in Addiction and Recovery Magazine Published quarterly by the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), this magazine keeps subscribers up to date on the latest research and best practices in the field. Professionals can contribute by submitting their own articles.
  • American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, Inc. Founded in 1984, this organization works to tackle the escalating problem of opioid addiction in the United States. Members can attend conferences and access educational information about opioid dependence.
  • Center on Addiction This nonprofit group confronts addiction by promoting prevention and treatment methods. Although anyone can access the center, the organization provides special tools to help healthcare providers and counselors.
  • Missouri Addiction Counselors Association This statewide professional association hosts two conferences every year — each count for 15 contact hours of continuing education. In addition, members receive a newsletter that updates them on the latest news and trends in the industry.
  • Missouri Association of Addiction Professionals Operating as a regional group within NAADAC, this association hosts events and continuing education opportunities for substance abuse counselors throughout the year.
  • Missouri Credentialing Board This board grants credentials for substance abuse counselors in the state and provides several continuing education opportunities. Professionals can take advantage of the board's self-study courses, online programs, and live trainings.
  • Missouri Mental Health Counselors Association This group offers networking opportunities through training and other educational events. It also encourages members to participate in advocacy for the mental health counseling profession during legislative visit days.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse An initiative of the federal government, NIDA sponsors research and funding opportunities in the substance abuse counseling field. It also provides many resources, like prevention and treatment advice, and data showing nationwide drug abuse trends.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services runs SAMHSA, which publishes data reports on topics including alcohol misuse, cocaine, and opioids. SAMHSA's evidence-based practice resource center offers best practices publications, treatment guides, and toolkits for counselors.
  • Substance Abuse Policy Research Program Sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, SAPRP aims to support and produce research on the misuse of alcohol and drugs. Professionals can learn about the latest research from SAPRP, and they can apply for funding to conduct research themselves.

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