Do you need a license to be a drug counselor?

Is it required for professional drug counselors to have a license? If so, what kind of certification is necessary?

asked 24 May '12, 13:26

aLtErEdSTATE's gravatar image

accept rate: 3%

Professional drug counselor certification and licensing varies from state to state. Licenses are often not transferable to other states. Different levels of certification define what counselors can and cannot do in terms of supervision and guidance.

(29 May '12, 14:12) admin ♦♦


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Many recovering drug addicts need professional support to help manage their addictions.


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The assistance of professional drug counselors is crucial to the drug rehabilitation process.


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Drug counselors help drug addicts stay sober through the later years of recovery.


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In the United States, drug counseling is regulated at the state level, although there are some national certifying bodies that are accepted by multiple states.

In my state at least (New Jersey), you can't operate as a drug "counselor" without having a license.. and the license application requires you have certain education, training, and credentials.

I believe there are real legal consequences for falsely claiming to be a "licensed" counselor... or offering drug counseling if unlicensed. That's how the laws are written.. they make a law requiring licensing, and that law also sets the criteria for qualifying, the entity responsible for review and approving, and the consequences for breaking the law.

So really it is the licensed part that matters most.

There are a few different types of credentials for drug counselors like "Licensed Professional Counselor" (LPC) and "Licensed Clinical Counselor" (LCC) but unless they are LICENSED you probably don't know if you are safe/getting the best help.

Some credentials cover supervising other counselors, and some are specialized for business operations of counseling, while others specialize in working with the state and aid programs, while still others may be more medical vs. administrative or "clinical".


New Jersey has funded an "Addiction Professionals Certifications Board" which governs the licensing of addiction counselors in New jersey (yes, they have to be licensed). The board is self-funded, meaning it collects fees which pay for the oversight program.

The states mission of the board is to :

"...enhance the professionalism of Addiction and Other Health Care Professionals by offering quality certification products, to provide and monitor accepted ethical standards for consumer protection and to provide addiction and behavioral health cross training..."

which sort of sounds like a business enterprise tome. Not sure what government is doing providing professional training (?) but included in their scope is making sure counselors are licensed.

The Addiction Professionals Certification Board offers Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC ) and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor(CADC) credentialing.

They acknowledge that the State of New Jersey accepts CCS, CPS, CPRS, CCDP, CCJP, ICADC, as reciprocal credentials according to the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC).

They also note that the CTTS, CRSP, CPRS-NJ, WTS, CDA, CJC & CMHA are all Certification Board Credentials.

This is obviously complicated.. they have a website at


answered 12 May '17, 20:22

CleanAndSober's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%

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Asked: 24 May '12, 13:26

Seen: 3,121 times

Last updated: 12 May '17, 20:22