Alcohol and Drug Counselor Requirements in Kentucky

Kentucky alcohol and drug counselors are certified by the Kentucky Board of Certification of Alcohol and Drug Counselors, under the banner of the Public Protection Cabinet. Certification is based on education and supervised practice as well as an examination process.

There is one credential, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Candidates can achieve the certification more quickly if they possess a graduate degree or a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

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Education and Training Requirements

A certified alcohol and drug counselor must be majority age (at least eighteen) and in possession of a bachelor’s degree ( The counselor must have 270 clock hour of approved education. Education must address the core functions of an alcohol and drug counselor. These include the following: counseling, screening, intake, orientation, assessment, treatment planning, report and record keeping, case management, consultation with other professionals, crisis intervention, client education, and referral. At least 135 education hours must pertain specifically to alcohol and drug counseling.

Education must include six hours of training in ethics and two hours of training in HIV; HIV training is to cover transmission, control, prevention, and treatment. At the time of application, the candidate will fill out a training resume, coding courses by subject (alcohol, drugs, counseling, ethics, HIV, or other). The candidate will also need to note which core function was addressed by the course in question.

The 270 hours do not have to be taken through a university. The Board will accept other organized programs of study taught by qualified instructors. Education may include seminars, conferences, and in-service. Candidates who complete their education through accredited colleges and universities may credit one semester hour as fifteen classroom hours. Credit can be granted for authoring works relevant to addiction counseling. Publication of a book chapter can be credited as ten hours; publication of an article in a refereed professional journal can be credited as 15 hours. A book can be credited as 30.

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Without a qualifying degree, a trainee will need three full-time years (6,000 hours) of experience. The Board will credit both paid and unpaid work experience. The experience requirement will be longer if only a portion of the trainee’s caseload is with alcohol and drug counseling clients. Instructions for determining required experience hours for work that falls under this category can be found in the application packet (

A candidate with a master’s degree will have a reduced experience requirement. If the degree s in addictions counseling, it is worth 4,000 experience hours. If it is in another related field, it is worth 3,000 experience hours.

A bachelor’s degree in addiction or a related field may be credited as 2,000 hours. However, no substitution credit is granted for a degree at the bachelor’s level that is not deemed to be related to the practice of alcohol and drug counseling. Counseling, psychology, social work, and psychiatric nursing are examples of fields that would be considered related.

At least 300 hours must be under direct supervision. The clinical supervisor must be a certified alcohol and drug counselor who has accrued no fewer than two years of post-certification experience. At least 200 hours of clinical supervision must be conducted face-to-face. The remaining hours may be carried out through teleconferencing or video conferencing. The trainee will need a minimum of ten hours of face-to-face supervision in each of the core functions. Group supervision sessions are creditable.

Examination Requirement

A certified alcohol and drug counselor must pass the International Certification Reciprocity Consortium on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (IC & RC) examination.

There is a $150 fee for written examination; a candidate who fails an examination attempt will need to submit an application for re-examination and pay an additional $150. The application form is short; its purpose is to attest that there has been no “change in circumstances”.

The Application Process

A candidate may download application materials from the Board site (

The candidate will need to submit a typed case presentation that follows the outline found in the application packet. The supervisor will need to sign that it represents an actual case.

Official transcripts are to be sent straight to the Kentucky Board from the issuing institution. A candidate who is qualifying on the basis of a master’s degree, though, will not need to furnish official transcripts of baccalaureate level education.

The supervisor(s) will evaluate the candidate. Two letters of reference are also required. They must come from certified alcohol and drug counselors.

A candidate who answers “yes” to potentially disqualifying questions about legal or professional history will be required to furnish supporting documentation.

There is a $50 application fee. This does not include the fee for initial certification.

Applications may be mailed or hand delivered to the Board address in Frankfort; mailing address and street address can both be found in the application packet.

Additional Information

The Kentucky Board of Certification of Alcohol and Drug Counselors ( can be reached by telephone at 502-564-3296, ext. 222.

The Kentucky Association of Addiction Professionals serves as an additional professional resource (

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