Licensed Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselors Requirements in New Mexico

The New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board credentials substance abuse professionals as Licensed Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselors (LADACs). Licensure is based on education, supervised practice, and examination. While working under supervision, an addiction counselor is credentialed as a Licensed Substance Abuse Associate (LSAA).

An individual must be at least 21 to be licensed at either level. The licensee will need a qualifying college degree. The Board will accept degrees from the associate’s level to the graduate level. The degree level determines the length of time that the trainee must work under supervision.

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Licensed Substance Abuse Associate Requirements

A person will not begin training as an LSAA until a qualifying degree has been earned. The degree should be in counseling, addictions, or a counseling-related field. The following degrees are considered related: agency counseling, art therapy, clinical psychology, guidance counseling, human and family studies, mental health/ community counseling, psychology, and social work. The Board will consider degrees that are not related to counseling or addictions on a case by case basis.

At the LSAA level, a candidate must demonstrate 90 clock hours of education in alcohol and/ or drug abuse. Education may take a variety of forms. Formal education, seminars, and in-service are potentially creditable.

LSAA Supervision may be provided by a LADAC who has at least three years of experience. Professionals in other mental health fields are also permitted to provide clinical supervision if they have experience in drug and alcohol counseling. The supervisor may hold licensing as a psychologist, psychiatrist, clinical mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, art therapist, or independent social worker. A clinical nurse specialist may provide supervision if substance abuse is the specialty. The supervisor will verify supervision and report whether performance was adequate.

Licensed Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselor Requirements

A LADAC must meet additional education requirements. At this point, the counselor must have 276 hours of coursework in content areas mandated by the Board ( 90 hours are required in each of the following areas: counseling, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse. The remaining six hours must be in ethics. Ethics coursework must be focused specifically on drug and alcohol counseling. It must be recent (completed in the two years prior to application).

All candidates are required to fulfill a supervised practice requirement. An individual with a degree at the associate’s level will need to work under supervision for three years and accrue no fewer than 3,000 client contact hours; 200 hours of face-to-face supervision are required. An individual with a bachelor’s degree must work under supervision for two years, accrue 2,000 client contact hours, and have at least 100 hours of face-to-face supervision. With a qualifying graduate degree, the experience requirement is reduced to one year and 1,000 hours; the supervision requirement is just 50 hours.

The candidate must pass the Level 1 NCAC examination. It is a multiple choice examination designed by the Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).

The NCAC examination currently costs $135 (

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The Application Process

An in-state candidate first comes under Board jurisdiction as an LSAA. The candidate must submit the appropriate application; this can be downloaded from the Board site ( The applicant must submit official transcripts from all institutions where credit was earned that was applied toward the qualifying degree. An exception may be made for internationally educated candidates if an official certified transcript cannot be obtained ( The candidate will need to submit a certified copy of the degree certificate and an explanation about why the transcript cannot be provided. The Board will need curriculum information; additional information may be requested.

Addiction coursework can be documented through transcripts or certificates of attendance; if a certificate of attendance is submitted, the candidate will also include the following information: date, number of hours, course title, and description. At this level, an experience plan and a signed statement from a supervisor are required.

A candidate will submit a license application before taking the licensing examination.

At the LADAC level, supervisor verification is required; this is to be included in a sealed, signed envelope. In cases where it is not possible to obtain the required verification, the applicant may provide sworn affidavits from other individuals; the applicant will also need to document the reason supervisor verification could not be obtained.

The applicant must attach a recent two by two photograph and sign a code of ethics. The application requires notarization. The application fee is $75 ( LSAAs later pay a $75 licensing fee; LADACs pay $150.

The Board notes that applications are typically reviewed in ten to fifteen business days.

Temporary Licenses

An addiction counselor who has met all requirements but the licensing exam may be granted a temporary license. The temporary license may be reissued after a failed examination attempt.

Out-of-State Addiction Counselors

A candidate who is found ineligible because of deficiencies can request to have the application reviewed at the lower level. There is a $25 fee for the review (

Addiction counselors who have taken a recognized national examination and are currently licensed or certified by the appropriate regulatory authority in their state or territory can apply by credentials. The New Mexico Board will accept either the NCAC or the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC & RC) examination.

Additional Information

The New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board can be reached by phone at (505)-476-4622 or by email at counselingboard at Interested individuals can request to be placed on the email contact list to stay apprised of new developments (

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