How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Ohio

For those interested in substance abuse counseling, Ohio offers several certifications and professional levels. The available certifications come from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board (OCDP) and include the chemical dependency counselor assistant (CDCA), two levels of the licensed chemical dependency counselor (LCDC II and III), the licensed independent chemical dependency counselor (LICDC), and the clinical supervisor (CS). Together, these certified professionals help make up one of the largest state substance abuse counseling workforces in the country.

Each designation features unique certification requirements and professional capabilities. Students can start at the beginning and work their way up or meet the requirements for an advanced certification right away. The following should help aspiring substance abuse counselors plan and prepare for their futures and choose the paths that suit them best. Read on to learn all about the substance abuse counseling profession in Ohio, including the various requirements for earning and maintaining certification.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Ohio

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Education and Experience Requirements

Each certification requires specific degrees, coursework, practicum hours, and work experience. The following outlines the expectations set out by the OCDP and what candidates in the field can expect.

Academic Requirements

The academic requirements for substance abuse counselor certifications depend on the level of certification. As an entry-level certification, the CDCA does not require a degree, only a high school diploma or a GED. Like many counseling professions nationwide, the LCDC II certification requires each applicant to possess an associate degree in nursing, behavioral science, or any bachelor's degree.

For the more advanced LCDC III certification, an applicant must possess a bachelor's degree in nursing or behavioral science. Finally, the LICDC and CS certifications require a behavioral science master's degree. In addition to completed degrees, each certification requires specific coursework requirements.


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

Like the degree requirements, the coursework expectations typically increase with each level of certification. For the CDCA, for example, each applicant needs 40 hours of coursework in specific chemical dependency courses. Meanwhile, for the LCDC II certification, a candidate must possess 180 hours of training in fields like counseling procedures, treatment planning, and assessment and diagnosis of addiction.

While completing each course meets the application requirements, a candidate must submit transcripts or letters from supervisors as proof of completion. They also need to complete each course within five years of application for them to qualify.

Practicum and Supervised Practice

To complete the practical requirements for LCDC certifications in Ohio, candidates need to complete 220 hours of practical experience. These requirements must cover 12 practical functions, like intake, assessment, and individual counseling. Students can complete these requirements at their places of employment or make arrangements to complete them at other locations.

The Exam and Application Process for Ohio Substance Abuse Counselors

Each candidate must submit their completed application online at the Professional Licensure for the State of Ohio to earn certification in substance abuse counseling. While most certifications cost $50, the application requirements and expectations vary. When upgrading to an advanced certification, the fee reduces to $35.

When submitting all completed requirements, like the work experience, coursework, and practicum, candidates should also include their verifications

As part of the application, each candidate needs to take and pass the alcohol and drug counselor (ADC) examination with the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium. Applicants must register for the examination and take it with six months. If they fail, they need to wait 90 days before reattempting. Those with a comparable state license may complete a waiver for the exam. CS certification applicants need to complete the ADC and CS exams for their applications. These exams ensure that candidates meet or exceed industry standards.

When submitting all completed requirements, like the work experience, coursework, and practicum, candidates should also include their verifications. These can come in the form of supervisor letters or letters of confirmation. All records and transcripts must be official. The OCDP only accepts applications online, so students should ensure that they can send all documents electronically. The OCDP also offers certification for prevention specialists.

Out-of-State Substance Abuse Counselor Candidates

As a member of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium, the OCDP certifications carry a reciprocity agreement with over 50 states and countries. Out-of-state applicants looking for certification in Ohio need to complete a reciprocity application. Typically, applicants who received certification from another reciprocity board will qualify, though certification through reciprocity works on an individual basis.

Like certification for Ohio residents, certification via reciprocity depends on each candidate's education. Therefore, a candidate looking for an LCDC certification needs an associate degree as a minimum. While the OCDP does not accept endorsements for LCDC certifications, it does grant CS certifications from endorsements. Candidates need active LIDC certifications and the appropriate educational and professional requirements to qualify.

Substance Abuse Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

When it comes time to renew one's certification, professionals must complete the renewal application on the Professional Licensure for the State of Ohio portal. Substance abuse counselors in Ohio needs to renew their certification every two years and take part in 40 hours of continuing education.

Substance abuse counselors in Ohio needs to renew their certification every two years

The continuing education courses need to come from field-specific disciplines at board-approved schools and programs. Of the 40 required hours, six hours must focus on chemical dependency training and three hours on ethics. Candidates can verify their program's eligibility or search for approved courses on the CEBroker.

Resources and Organizations for Substance Abuse Counselors in Ohio

In addition to the information provided above, aspiring substance abuse counselors in Ohio can access several other resources. The following list highlights some of the best sites and organizations for industry information, professional development opportunities, and career information.

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