How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Nevada

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2017 Nevada had 412 deaths due to opioid overdose — the first time the state's rate has been below the national average since 1999. Improvements in the state's drug statistics come thanks to the hard work of substance abuse counselors in Nevada.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 23% growth in substance abuse counseling jobs between 2016-2026. This guide covers important information on how to become a substance abuse counselor in Nevada, including education and experience requirements, certification and renewal processes, and online resources for counseling students and practicing professionals.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Nevada

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Education and Experience Requirements

Nevada counseling requirements vary by certification level. The following sections outline the education and experience requirements for various certifications, including practicum and content area requirements.

Academic Requirements

To become a certified alcohol and drug counselor intern (CADCI), which is required before earning advanced credentials, applicants need a high school diploma and at least 60 undergraduate college credits in an approved social science field. For certification as a certified alcohol and drug counselor (CIADC), applicants need an accredited bachelor's degree in an approved social science field. For certification as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor (LADC), applicants need a master's or doctorate in an approved social science field.


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

Nevada does not specify content area requirements for individual courses as long as candidates earn their degrees in an approved social science field. Accepted fields of study for Nevada substance abuse counselors include:

  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Problem gambling
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology
  • Social work
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Nursing
  • Medicine

Practicum and Supervised Practice

CIADC and LADC candidates must complete 1,500-4,000 hours (about two years) of full-time, supervised experience in drug and alcohol abuse counseling. The number of required hours varies by educational background.

The Exam and Application Process for Nevada Substance Abuse Counselors

The Nevada counselor board — the Nevada Board of Examiners for Alcohol, Drug, and Gambling Counselors — handles certification and licensing for substance abuse counselors throughout the state. Beyond education and experience, certification candidates must successfully complete exam requirements.

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Intern Requirements

CADCI candidates do not need to complete an exam, but they must complete 12 hours of training in HIPAA compliance, counselor confidentiality, and ethics. Applicants must submit official college transcripts, a supervision agreement, and a $210 fee.

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Requirements

CADC candidates must pass written and oral exams from the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). Candidates must score at least 70% on the written exam to proceed to the oral exam. Applicants must submit official college transcripts, proof of work experience, and a $495 fee.

Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor Requirements

LADC candidates must pass written and oral exams from IC&RC. Test takers must earn at least 70% on the written exam to proceed to the oral exam. Candidates must submit official college transcripts, proof of work experience, and a $495 fee.

Out-of-State Substance Abuse Counselor Candidates

Nevada does not hold formal certification or licensure reciprocity agreements for substance abuse counselors. However, the state may grant written and oral examination waivers to applicants who meet educational and experience requirements and hold a current, valid license from another state.

The board examines out-of-state applications on a case-by-case basis. Waivers are not guaranteed, and candidates exempt from examinations must still provide all applicable certification fees. Out-of-state professionals who do not receive a waiver and wish to practice in Nevada must fulfill all of the application and examination requirements detailed in the previous sections.

Substance Abuse Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Nevada counseling professionals must renew their credentials every two years. To qualify for renewal, substance abuse counselors must complete at least 40 hours of continuing education during each two-year period. Counselors must complete at least three hours on ethics, three hours on confidentiality standards, and two hours on suicide prevention.

Nevada counseling professionals must renew their credentials every two years

Renewal requirements for certified interns differ. Interns must complete 25 continuing education hours during the first year of certification and 20 hours during each subsequent year of CADCI certification.

Resources and Organizations for Substance Abuse Counselors in Nevada

Counseling students, certified interns, and professional counselors in Nevada benefit from joining membership organizations, government agencies, and advocacy groups. Benefits include networking, professional development, and continuing education opportunities and access to substance abuse data, research, and publications.

  • American Counseling Association As the largest professional association for counselors in the world, the ACA offers extensive benefits to members and non-members, including an open-access knowledge center, award-winning publications, career resources, and networking opportunities.
  • Association for Addiction Professionals NAADAC advocates for addiction professionals and their clients. Members can access 145 hours of on-demand continuing education webinars and an online career center with national and international job listings.
  • National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare NCSACW works to improve family recovery, safety, and stability through professional collaboration and advancement. Students and counselors can access information and webinars on the NCSACW site.
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Part of the National Institute of Health (NIH), NIAAA supports and conducts research on the impact of alcohol use on human health. Students and counselors can access information, research, and resources on the NIAAA site.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse Part of the NIH, NIDA works to advance knowledge on the causes and consequences of drug abuse and addiction. Students and counselors can access information, research, and resources on the NIDA site.
  • Nevada Association for Addiction Professionals SNAAP, an affiliate of NAADAC, works to advance addiction research and the professional development of addiction professionals. Members gain access to continuing education opportunities, networking opportunities, and relevant publications.
  • Nevada State Board of Examiners for Alcohol, Drug, and Gambling Counselors The state board for substance abuse counselors reviews applications for certification and licensure throughout Nevada. Students and counselors can access certification regulations, renewal information, and additional resources on the website.
  • Nevada State Opioid Response Funded by the federal government's 21st Century Cures Act, Nevada State Opioid Response works to address the current opioid crisis. Students and counselors can access relevant resources on the initiative's website.
  • Suicide Prevention Resource Center Supported by federal grants, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center strives to increase suicide prevention skills and knowledge by offering free, online, self-paced courses for health profesionals, students, and community members.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration This federal agency works to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness in American communities. Students and counselors can access data, resources, and funding opportunities on the SAMHSA site.

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