Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements in Arizona

Arizona substance abuse counselors are licensed by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. The Board issues three substance abuse licenses: Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor, Licensed Associate Substance Abuse Counselor, and Licensed Substance Abuse Technician. The level of licensing depends on the level of education and whether the candidate has completed supervised practice.

Featured Programs:
  • Post University is accepting students to their Online Graduate Certificate program in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. This program requires that applicants posses a Bachelor's degree. At this time the program is not enrolling students from California, Colorado, New York, Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, Idaho, and Pennsylvania. Click here to learn more about this program.
  • Capella University offers an online MS in Addiction Studies and a PhD in Addiction Psychology. Capella University also offers three online CACREP-accredited programs: MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, MS in School Counseling, and PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision, as well as a COAMFTE-accredited program, MS in Marriage and Family Therapy. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.
  • Liberty University, a nonprofit University, offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology – Addictions and Recovery. Liberty University is ranked in the top 1% of online universities for affordability, accessibility, and academic quality and is accredited by the SACSCOC. Click here to further explore this and other programs at Liberty University.
  • Alvernia University's Bachelor's of Arts in Addictions and Mental Health Treatment is one of the oldest programs of this kind and considered to be one of the top programs in the country for this area of study. There are multiple start dates this year. Click here to explore Alvernia University and the Bachelor's of Arts in Addictions and Mental Health Treatment program.
  • The Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology - Addictions at Purdue University Global is designed for those who want to pursue careers that assist people whose lives are affected by substance abuse, or who suffer from other potentially detrimental behavioral addictions such as gambling. Click here to learn more about Purdue University Global and the Bachelor's in Psychology - Addictions program.
  • The online counseling programs at Walden University are CACREP accredited and will allow you to learn from distinguished faculty members with years of practical experience in their respective fields. Click here to become a knowledgeable leader in your field.
  • Are you ready to transform your future with a degree in Psychology from Rivier University? Prepare to become a licensed alcohol and drug counselor through the track. Click here to request more information.
  • Gain the education you need to make a difference in people’s lives with an online Bachelor of Social Work or Master of Social Work from Campbellsville University. To learn the skills and knowledge needed for careers in social work, with curricula spanning crisis intervention, law, advocacy, social policies, psychopathology and marriage and family relationships click here.

Select an Arizona Substance Abuse Counselor topic below…

Education and Training Requirements: Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor

The independent license requires a master’s degree in a behavior health field; this must be earned through a regionally accredited institution. The student must have 24 semester hours of coursework that is counseling-related. At this level, ‘counseling-related’ is defined as coursework that prepares a professional to deliver behavioral health assessment, diagnosis, and treatment services. The Board notes that general survey courses such as “Introduction to Human Services” are not accepted. Courses like statistics may not be applied to the 24 semester hour minimum either.

Candidates must also work under supervision for at least 24 months, post-master, and until such time as they have accrued 3,200 hours. They must spend at least 1,600 in direct client contact. Case management and administrative work are not credited as clinical contact hours.

At least 100 hours of clinical supervision must be provided by a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor; a list of supervisors is available on the Board site (http://azbbhe.us/node/23). Group supervision may include no more than six supervisees. Supervision hours can only be logged when the sole topic was clinical services; the Board notes that staff meetings generally do not qualify. The supervisor must spend at least ten hours observing or reviewing service delivery; this can include audio- or videotaped sessions.

While accruing supervised experience hours, the counselor will work under a license issued by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners.

Education and Training Requirements: Licensed Associate Substance Abuse Counselor

An individual may attain the associate substance abuse counselor license with a behavioral science degree at the baccalaureate level.

Fully 30 semester hours of counseling-related coursework is required. No more than six semester hours may be completed outside the qualifying undergraduate degree. The Board will not accept courses like introductory psychology.

A baccalaureate level counselor must have 3,200 hours of practice. Again, there must be 1,600 hours of direct client contact and 100 hours of clinical supervision.

The counselor will be evaluated in the following areas:

  • Intake
  • Assessment
  • Diagnostics
  • Triage
  • Treatment planning
  • Crisis intervention
  • Psychotherapy
  • Outreach
  • Consultation with Professionals

A master’s level counselor needs only the required degree and coursework to achieve the associate license. The requirement for counseling-related coursework is the same as it is at the independent level: 24 semester hours. No more than three semester hours may be completed outside the qualifying graduate degree.

Educational Requirements: Licensed Substance Abuse Technician

An individual can qualify for a technician license with a chemical dependency degree at the associate’s level. At least 30 semester hours must be counseling-related. At this level, 18 must be specifically related to chemical dependency.

A candidate with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science field will need to document 30 semester hours of counseling-related coursework, but will not need to document 18 semester hours in chemical dependency.

No more than six semester hours of coursework may be completed outside the qualifying degree.

In some cases, educational requirements may be waived at the technician level. This is only done when a candidate has had at least 6,400 hours of experience. The experience must have spanned at least four years and taken place during the prior seven. The worker must have had at least 200 hours of supervision.

Examination Requirements

All candidates must pass an approved examination. The Board has approved the following examinations: the International Certification Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (IC & RC) exam and the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) exam (Level II or higher).

The Board has instructed candidates who are interested in NAADAC testing to call 1-800-548-0497 (https://www.azbbhe.us/pdfs/Testing%20information%20for%20intro%20letters%20-%20SA%20021920.pdf). Candidates interested in taking the IC & RC exam may call the Arizona Board for Certification of Addiction Counselors (ABCAC) at 602-251-8548 unless they are employed in the Indian Health System, in which case they will call the Southwest Indian Substance Abuse Counselor Certification Board (SISACCB) at 602-254-3247.

Candidates are allowed two examination attempts during a twelve month period.

Background Checks

The Arizona Board requires fingerprint-based criminal background checks. Candidates who do not have current fingerprint clearance cards will submit fingerprint cards directly to the Board. There is a $40 fee; this is to be paid separately from the application fee.

A candidate who has a clearance card will instead copy the front and back.

The candidate will also need to do a self-query of the National Practitioner Data Bank database. This can be accomplished through a visit to the NPDB website at www.npdb.hrsa.gov. Candidates may call 1-800-767-6732 if they do not have internet access. The self-query carries an $8 fee. It may take two weeks for the report to arrive at the candidate’s address; it is to be submitted with the application in its original envelope. The Board will not accept self-queries that are more than 90 days old.

The Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from the Board site (https://www.azbbhe.us/node/839). The candidate will submit a general application and a substance abuse supplement. The Board will require official transcripts of all license-qualifying coursework. A transcript must be provided from each institution even if courses were later accepted by another institution. Transcripts should accompany the license application in unopened envelopes.

The candidate will fill out a course worksheet, indicating which courses fulfill requirements.

Supervisor’s verification is to be submitted in a sealed envelope with the supervisor’s name signed across the seal.

The candidate will need to document legal residency and submit a copy of an ID or social security card.

The affidavit must be notarized. The application packet must include a nonrefundable fee of $250; personal checks are not accepted.

Additional Information

The Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (http://azbbhe.us/) can be reached at 602-542-1882.

Arizona Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors