How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, certification and licensure for substance abuse counselors are granted by the Oklahoma Board of Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors. The state offers credentials at two levels: the licensed alcohol and drug counselor (LADC) for a candidate with a master's degree and the certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC) for an applicant with a bachelor's degree and experience. Both credentials feature specific degree and coursework requirements.

For those who earn one of the two substance abuse counseling credentials in Oklahoma, the profession looks promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall annual mean wage for the profession in Oklahoma sits higher than the mean average. Furthermore, Tulsa counselors benefit from one of the highest annual mean wages of any area in the country, and Southeast Oklahoma employs the second largest substance abuse workforce in all nonmetropolitan areas.

Continue reading to learn about how to become a substance abuse counselor in Oklahoma, the types of credentials available, and what candidates can expect from the application process.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Oklahoma

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Education and Experience Requirements

To accommodate different candidates, the Oklahoma Board of Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors offers two types of credentials, each with different requirements. The following information outlines what applicants need to earn the LADC and the CADC, covering academic, coursework, and practicum requirements.

Academic Requirements

Depending on the state and type of counseling, the profession can require different levels of education and disciplines. To become a CADC in Oklahoma, each candidate needs a bachelor's degree in behavioral science or counseling from a regionally accredited program. Requiring a specific discipline allows the Oklahoma Counselor Board to ensure that candidates possess the most relevant training.

For the more advanced LADC, each applicant needs a master's degree. Like the CADC, this degree must come in the specific field of alcohol and substance abuse counseling field or something similar. Additionally, the chosen program must come from a regionally accredited school.


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

Coursework requirements also differ between credentials. For the CADC, as part of the bachelor's degree, candidates need 45 hours of training in co-occurring disorders, like abnormal psychology or a related field. Coursework for the LADC, however, features more specific requirements.

To meet the educational requirements for the more advanced credential, a candidate needs to complete a minimum of 45 class hours in 10 courses, including courses in research methods, human development, psychopathology, addiction in the family, and assessment and treatment. To qualify, each course must deliver three semester hours or four quarter credit hours.

Practicum and Supervised Practice

For the practicum requirements, candidates need a total of 300 hours for both the CADC and the LADC. While these hours can come from completing a variety of substance abuse counseling tasks, candidates must complete at least 10 hours in each of the 12 core functions as set out by the board. Some of these areas include client screening, assessment, case management, and crisis intervention.

The Exam and Application Process for Oklahoma Substance Abuse Counselors

The application process for becoming a substance abuse counselor in Oklahoma requires candidates over the age of 21 to complete each of the requirements above, including finishing the appropriate degree, coursework, and practicum. Each applicant must also satisfy the employment requirements: one year for the LADC and two years for the CADC. Half of all those hours must come from direct client contact.

Each application must involve a supervisor's signature, including a supervision log verifying that the candidate met with their supervisor for a minimum of one hour per week. Some of the other application elements include a signed code of ethics form and three professional references, plus a personal philosophy paper.

substance abuse counselor candidates in Oklahoma must be over the age of 21 and finish the appropriate degree, coursework, and practicum

This 300-word submission must outline the applicant's methods and approach to counseling, along with their particular counseling styles. Finally, applicants must submit their forms with the proper notarization, submission fees, and permission for the Oklahoma Counselor Board to conduct a background check.

Once the board processes the application, they send testing approval to the eligible candidates. Developed by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) and administered by the Oklahoma Drug and Alcohol Professional Counselor Association (ODAPCA), testing includes a written and an oral examination. Once the candidate completes all of the above, the board decides on whether to grant the credential or not.

Out-of-State Substance Abuse Counselor Candidates

For an out-of-state candidate to earn a substance abuse counselor certification or license in Oklahoma, they need to go through the same channels and meet the same requirements as in-state applicants. As long as licensed or certified counselors complete the appropriate degrees and the IC&RC exams, they may qualify for the credential.

Aspiring substance abuse counselors in Oklahoma should note that licensure and certification in Oklahoma are non-reciprocal credentials. This means that they are only valid in Oklahoma. Even though the state may typically honor credentials earned from other states, the Oklahoma Counselor Board gets to make the final decision.

Substance Abuse Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Licensure and certifications issued to substance abuse counselors in Oklahoma remain active for one year. In the 45 days before the expiry date, counselors may apply to renew their credentials. To qualify for renewal, they need to complete continuing education and pay the associated fees each year.

Licensure and certifications issued to substance abuse counselors in Oklahoma remain active for one year

For a CADC renewal, counselors need to complete 270 hours total, including 135 hours related to drug and alcohol counseling or a similar field. For the LADC renewal, professionals must complete 180 hours total, including 90 hours related to drug and alcohol counseling.

Resources and Organizations for Substance Abuse Counselors in Oklahoma

Regardless of the level of their career, substance abuse counselors in Michigan benefit from a wealth of resources available to them. From national organizations to local industry associations, the following resources can help counselors access information, education, and professional development opportunities.

  • American Counseling Association ACA supports and promotes counselors and the counseling profession. It provides access to continuing education, events, publications, and industry information.
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine ASAM represents and advocates for many addiction professionals. It strives to improve treatment and services by offering access to education and resources.
  • International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium The IC&RC develops the testing for substance abuse professionals and provides information on credentialing. The consortium works with organizations from across the country to develop a national industry standard.
  • Oklahoma Association for Addiction Professionals The Oklahoma chapter of NAADAC provides addiction professionals with a united voice, seeking to promote the profession and help advance it throughout the state. For members, OKAAP offers access to continuing education and professional services.
  • Oklahoma Board of Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors This board oversees alcohol and drug counselor credentialing in Oklahoma. It receives and processes the applications, develops the laws and regulations, and strives to improve the field as a whole.
  • Oklahoma Counseling Association The OCA unites counselors in a large and supportive network, offering mentoring services, professional development opportunities, and access to events. OCA also hosts a directory of industry resources.
  • Oklahoma Drug and Alcohol Professional Counselor Association ODAPCA advocates for the addiction counselor profession and governs the testing process for licensure. The association also hosts industry events and workshops for its members.
  • Oklahoma Mental Health Association This association, dedicated to improving mental health in the state, offers access to resources, events, and educational materials.
  • State Board of Behavioral Health The State Board of Behavioral Health promotes and enforces the rules surrounding counselors in the state and offers access to resources for continuing education, licensure, and state regulations.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SAMHSA seeks to improve behavioral health for people across the nation and the world. By providing information, resources, and education, the organization hopes to limit substance abuse and enhance treatment.

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