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.

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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 ( Group supervision may include no more than six supervises. 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.

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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 ( 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 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 ( 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 ( can be reached at 602-542-1882.

Arizona Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors

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