Substance Abuse Counselor License Requirements in Ohio: The Path to Becoming a Chemical Dependency Counselor

The Ohio Board of Chemical Dependency Professionals issues multiple licenses, each with its own well-defined scope of practice. All substance abuse licenses at the counselor level require academic degrees. There is a lower designation, Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant, however, that does not.

The Application and Examination Process

Chemical dependency counselors take the Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) examination. The ADC examination is made available by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium

Prospective counselors will begin by submitting application forms to the Ohio Board. Applications and supplemental documents can be downloaded from the Board website ( The qualifying degree is to be documented through an official sealed transcript. In some cases, chemical dependency coursework will be documented through certificates or letters of completion. A completed application file will include a supervisor reference and job description. The application fee is $50.

Chemical dependency professionals who already hold licensing at a lower level fill out a separate conversion application. Those who are seeking to convert to LCDP III must provide official transcripts showing a qualifying degree. Those seeking to convert to LICDC must document qualifying master’s degrees. If they were licensed without examination on the basis of another professional license, they must show that the license does indeed have a scope of practice that allows for substance abuse counseling at this level. (Otherwise, examination will be required.)

After approval, the candidate will submit an examination form along with a $150 fee ( Candidates will be pre-registered by the Board but will be responsible for self-scheduling their own computer-based examinations. They are directed to the Iso-Quality Testing website for a list of locations (

A professional who holds a license through another Ohio board that includes alcohol and drug counseling within its scope of practice can request examination waiver.

Independent licenses and clinical supervisor licenses are both dependent on having a degree at the master's level.

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Academic Standards

There are two pathways to licensure as a Chemical Dependency Counselor II: 1) an associate's degree in a qualifying field or 2) a bachelor's degree in any field. Qualifying fields are nursing and the behavioral sciences.

’Behavioral science degree’ has been defined to mean a degree that includes minimum coursework in approved content areas. Approved content areas include the following:

  • Addictions
  • Chemical dependency
  • Child development
  • Corrections
  • Counseling
  • Criminal justice
  • Human services
  • Personnel/ industrial relations
  • Psychology
  • Social work
  • Sociology
  • Vocational rehabilitation counseling

With a bachelor's degree in nursing or behavioral sciences, a professional can become a Chemical Dependency Counselor III. With a master's degree in a qualifying behavioral science or nursing field, one can become a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor.

A qualifying master's degree will include the following:

  • Theories of counseling and psychotherapy
  • Counseling procedure
  • Relationship theory
  • Group processes and techniques
  • Human development
  • Psychopathology
  • Assessment and diagnosis
  • Cultural competency
  • Ethics
  • Research
  • Practicum or internship

The individual will need a total of at least 40 semester hours of coursework in the required content hours. State code defines the minimum number of contact hours in each subject. The master’s education grid (found in the forms section of the website) provides detailed information.

Required Substance Abuse Coursework

In each of these cases, the person must have 180 hours of education in chemical dependency. Education must address the following:

  • Addiction theories
  • Techniques for counseling the addicted
  • Group work with addicted populations
  • Assessing and diagnosing addiction
  • Relationship counseling with addicted individuals
  • Pharmacology
  • Prevention strategies
  • Treatment planning
  • Legal and ethical issues related to substance abuse counseling

At least half of the chemical dependency coursework is to be recent (from the five year period preceding application). State administrative code includes a description of concepts to be covered in each content area. Detailed information is also provided in the CD education definition page; this, too, is available for download from the forms section.

Practicum and Supervised Practice

Experience requirements are the same at each of the three counselor levels: 2,000 total hours with 220 hours of supervised practical training. The Board can credit either supervised internship or compensated work experience. The experience must include minimum hours in each of 12 core functions. The prospective chemical dependency counselor must, for example, have 20 hours of family counseling and 30 hours each of individual and group counseling.


The Ohio Board can grant reciprocity to substance abuse counselors who are credentialed by other IC&RC boards. However, license level is determined by education. In order to be licensed as a counselor (and not an assistant) one must hold at least an associate's degree.

Renewal Requirements

Counselors renew on a biennial basis. The professional will need to complete 40 hours of related continuing education.

Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant Requirements

There are two phases to the CDCA qualification process. Educational topics are the same at each level. The difference is in the number of hours. The following content must be included:

  • Addiction knowledge
  • Treatment knowledge
  • Professionalism
  • Service coordination
  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Evaluation
  • Documentation

Supervisor Requirements

In order to move to the supervisory level, a professional must have 30 hours of education in supervision.

Clinical supervisors take the Clinical Supervisor (CS) examination. Again this requirement may be waived on the basis of another qualifying healthcare license.

Additional Information

Licensing information is available from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board ( The Board can be reached by telephone at (614) 387-1110 or by email at 'info at'.

The Ohio Association of Alcoholism and Other Drug Addiction Counselors is an additional professional resource. It is the state affiliate of the national professional association, NAADAC (

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