How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Ohio

In Ohio, as in most states, substance abuse counselors stand on the front lines of the ongoing campaign to combat drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013 Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine established a Heroin Unit to provide additional law enforcement and outreach support for Ohio's communities. He commented: "The fact is, many different segments -- law enforcement, coroners, judges, treatment professionals, community groups, doctors, educators -- will have to break down the silos and work together to solve this problem."

There is a great need for substance abuse counselors in Ohio, as they are often involved in every step of the treatment and rehabilitation process. So, like other states, Ohio has a mandated training and certification process through which substance abuse counselors are prepared and licensed to practice in the field.

Educational Requirements to Become a Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor in Ohio

The licensing and certification of substance abuse counselors in Ohio falls under the purview of the Ohio Chemical Dependency Prevention Board (OCDPB), a 13-member panel appointed by the governor. The OCDPB employs a tiered system of licensing for substance abuse counselors, with different training and educational requirements for each level of certification. There are three main tiers.

  • Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor II (LCDC II): This requires at least a two-year associate's degree in behavioral science or nursing, as well as one year (2,000 hours) of supervised internship or on-the-job experience in chemical dependency counseling. You must also complete 180 hours of chemical dependency education.
  • Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor III (LCDCIII): This has the same requirements as above, plus a bachelor's degree in behavioral science or nursing.
  • Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC): This has the same requirements as above, plus a master's degree in behavioral science or nursing.

All applicants must pass the State's Alcohol Drug Counselor exam, which is offered year round at regional computer-based testing sites. You can also become a Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant (CDCA) in Ohio with just a high school diploma or the equivalent, plus 40 additional hours of education in areas specific to addiction treatment.

The OCDPB mandates nine required areas of study for certification in Ohio, including pharmacology, addiction diagnosis and assessment, relationship counseling, and legal and ethical issues pertaining to chemical dependency. In addition, the Board targets twelve core areas of practical training, from treatment planning and individual counseling, to crisis intervention and family counseling. Higher levels of licensure in Ohio can be attained with additional education, such as earning a related bachelor's or master's degree.

Benefits of Substance Abuse Counselor Certification in Ohio

On a national level, the job outlook for those entering the field of substance abuse counseling remains quite good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a far above average increase of 31% in jobs from 2012-2022, due in large part to new federal legislation that requires health insurance to cover treatment for substance abuse and addiction. The most recent BLS stats show that substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earned an average annual salary of $41, 090, or $19.75 an hour, as of May 2013. The numbers look even better in Ohio, where the average salary was $42,040, or $20.21 an hour.

Ohio has been at the forefront of the move to address the problem of drug abuse and addiction. As The Columbus Dispatch reported on July 30, 2014, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown was a primary sponsor of "The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act," a bill that would, "give patients greater access to drug addiction treatment in the outpatient setting." Legislation of that sort will only further increase the demand for well trained, properly certified substance abuse counselors with licensing in Ohio.


Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_oh.htm#31-0000

Social Workers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm#tab-4

Requirement for Chemical Dependency Counselors, Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board, accessed January, 2015, http://www.humanservicesedu.org/ohio-substance-abuse-counselor.html

"Proposed Law Aims to Provide Greater Access to Drug Addiction Treatment," The Columbus Dispatch, July 30, 2014, http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/07/30/0730-Addiction-Treatment-Act_.html

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, How May We Help You, http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Individuals-and-Families/Victims/Drug-Diversion

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