Oklahoma Substance Abuse Counselor Training

People suffering from addiction to alcohol and drugs often turn to substance abuse counselors for the help they need to get their lives back on the right track. Substance abuse counselors, also called chemical dependency counselors, help people suffering from addictions and other behavioral problems, such as eating disorders or problematic gambling. Counselors work in a variety of settings, including residential in-patient treatment centers and larger group therapy sessions, and counseling often includes family members in order to give the addict a stronger support network upon which to rely after leaving treatment.

Oklahoma substance abuse counselor training

In 2004, the Oklahoma State Legislature mandated that licensed and certified substance abuse counselors in the state must possess at least a bachelor's or master's degree in alcohol and substance abuse counseling or behavioral sciences. Degrees from substance abuse counselor training programs in Oklahoma are designed to help students develop the skills necessary to counsel others through their addictions, as well as education in social advocacy for creation of better treatment and treatment facilities.

As an example, coursework for the master's degree at University of Central Oklahoma for the 2014-2015 school year includes study in the following areas:

  • Foundations of addiction
  • Advanced individual and family counseling
  • Advanced group dynamics
  • Family systems theory
  • Counseling the abused
  • Psychopathology

Students must have a total of 42-45 hours to complete the program and get an overall 3.0 grade point average, among other requirements. Requirements for other degree programs vary by institution.

Oklahoma substance abuse counselor licensing and certification

The Oklahoma Drug and Alcohol Professional Counselors Association administers all testing and licensing for chemical dependency counselors in the state.

Requirements vary depending on the type of licensure sought. For Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LADC), the board requires:

  • Master's degree
  • 12 months, or 2,000 total hours, of employment, with at least 51 percent direct client contact
  • Six hours counselor-specific ethics training
  • Three personal references
  • Supervision contract

For Certified Alcohol Drug Counselors, the state requirements are:

  • Bachelor's degree
  • 24 months, or 4,000 hours, of work experience with at least 51 percent direct client contact
  • Supervision contract, with a two-year log of face-to-face meetings with a supervisor
  • Six hours counselor-specific ethics training

Both groups also have specific continuing education requirements. A third group, Certified Prevention Specialists, can be licensed with only an associate degree and 2,000 hours work experience. Contact the ODAPCA for more information and a complete list of licensing and application requirements.

Oklahoma substance abuse counselor salary and job outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), there were 1,120 substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors working in Oklahoma in May of 2013. Annual wages were just over $34,000, which compares closely to the national median wage of $38,620 for the profession during that same time.

Job growth for chemical dependency counselors is expected to be brisk over into the next decade. From 2012 through 2022, the BLS predicts 31 percent occupational growth, which translates into 28,200 new positions. According to Predictions Central, job growth in Oklahoma is predicted to be 260 new positions by 2022, a 21.6 percent rise in employment.

Career options are strongest for substance abuse counselors who have received specialized education and training, the BLS notes, since employers often have a tough time finding counselors with the right mix of advanced education and work experience.

Recent laws mandating health care coverage may spur additional demand for substance abuse counseling, along with addiction and mental health services increasingly being covered by insurance policies. Demand also may rise from states seeking treatment for drug and alcohol offenders rather than sentencing them to jail time, the BLS notes.


Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor (CADC) Requirements, Oklahoma Drug & Alcohol Professional Counselor Association, Accessed August 4, 2014, http://www.odapca.org/odap/content/cadc-requirements

Licensed Alcohol Drug Counselors (LADC) or IC&RC Credentials-Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC), Oklahoma Drug & Alcohol Professional Counselor Association, Accessed August 4, 2014, http://www.odapca.org/odap/content/ladc-requirements

Substance Abuse Counselors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211011.htm

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm

Substance Abuse Counselors, Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections, Maryland, 2011-2022, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm

Substance Abuse Studies, M.A., University of Central Oklahoma Graduate Catalog, Sociology, Gerontology and Substance Abuse Studies, 2014-2015, http://www.uco.edu/graduate/files/degreesheets/la-sas.pdf

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