If your life goal is to become a substance abuse counselor in Michigan you've chosen an excellent profession. The need for counselors is growing rapidly due to a combination of reasons: there is less stigma for those asking for addiction help, more counseling options for those incarcerated for drug offenses, and more state programs designed to proactively fight addiction. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics this field is projected to grow a healthy 16 percent over the next decade, much higher than the national projection for all jobs.

The majority of substance abuse counselors in Michigan work in outpatient care centers, followed by individual and family services. The median annual wage for the state is $43,390, which is average for the nation.

The top 10 percent annual median wage is $70,840 which is considerably higher than the national median of $63,620. Coupled with the lower cost of living in the state this means you'll enjoy a healthy income when you reach the top tier of your profession.

Although Michigan doesn't require a degree for lower certification the educational requirements are strident so it's a good idea to make a master's degree your long-term goal.

Overview

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Substance abuse counselor licensure is overseen by the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals (MCBAP), a division of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. There are two credentials you can earn: Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC). In addition, there is a credential for clinical supervision which is aptly titled Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS). Each credential requires specific education, experience, and training before you can apply to test for the credential.

Although only the CAADC requires a degree the education required for the CADC is extensive, so you should plan accordingly. Before you enroll in school you should verify the coursework in your chosen program is included in the requirements and will transfer to a master’s degree program in the future.

In Michigan you'll be required to accrue both work experience and supervision, which is the term used by the MCBAP to indicate on the job training hours. You'll need to meet specific criteria in each in order to qualify to take the certification exams.

You'll apply to sit for the exams through MCBAP; once your application is accepted the test will be administered by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium/Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (IC&RC/AADC). Once certified you will be required to renew your certificate periodically and you'll need to take continuing education coursework in the interim.

Becoming a substance abuse counselor in Michigan will take several years of hard work and dedication, so you should plan to join one or more professional groups as soon as you enroll in school. These associations will help you build a support system that will help you through the difficult process of earning your credentials and becoming a successful counselor.

Types of Licensure for Michigan

As mentioned above, there are two credentials you can earn in Michigan. Here's a look at the requirements for each, as well as the requirements to become a Clinical Supervisor:

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)

Education:

300 contact hours are required with a minimum 180 hours specific to substance abuse disorders. The remaining 120 hours should be related to either substance use or the IC&RC/ADC Performance Domains:

  • Counseling
  • Professional and Ethical Responsibilities
  • Screening, Assessment, and Engagement
  • Treatment Planning, Collaboration, and Referral

A minimum of six hours must be face-to-face (not online) MCBAP approved coursework in behavioral health professional practice ethics

Experience:

depending on the level and focus of your degree you'll need up to 6,000 hours of clinical counseling experience at a state licensed program. The experience you'll need is directly prorated to the degree you've earned as follows:

Associate's degree 1,000 hours credit
Bachelor’s degree 2,000 hours credit
Master’s degree or higher 4,000 hours credit

Supervision: supervision is the term used in Michigan for clinically supervised training. For a CADC you'll need 300 hours, with 100 hours credit if you hold a Bachelor's degree or higher. Your supervision must be in the IC&RC/ADC Performance Domains above with a minimum of 10 hours in each Domain.

Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)

Education:

you must earn a master's degree or higher in addiction science, counseling, marriage and family therapy, psychiatric nursing, psychology, or social work with a clinical application. 180 of your master’s degree coursework hours must be specific to substance use disorders and six in professional ethics. Coursework in therapeutic methods and clinical theory will not count if not specific to SUD. In addition, your education must be IC&RC AADC Domain topics as above with keyword course title topics of:

  • Alcohol
  • Chemical dependency
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Drug addiction
  • Drug use
  • Substance abuse
  • Substance use disorder
  • Tobacco

Experience:

you will need 2,000 hours of post-master’s degree clinical counseling experience working with substance abuse disorder clients or co-occurring disorder clients at a state licensed program or an MCBAP approved alternate. This is the equivalent of one-year full-time employment.

Supervision:

100 hours of post-degree supervision specifically in the IC&RC/AADC Performance Domains, with at least 10 hours in each Domain.

Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)

To be eligible to test for the CCS credential you must already hold one of the following certifications:

  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)
  • Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)
  • Certified Criminal Justice Professional (CCJP)
  • Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (CCDP)
  • Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (CCDP)
  • Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Diplomat (CCDP-D)

Education:

30 clinical supervision contact hours including four hours in each of the following CCS Domains:

  • Counselor Development
  • Performance Evaluation and Administration
  • Professional & Ethical Standards
  • Program Development & Quality Assurance

Experience:

10,000 hours clinical counseling in a state licensed program or MCBAP approved alternative, including 4,000 hours clinical supervisor experience

Supervision:

200 hours direct supervision that is specific to the IC&RC/CCS Performance Domains

Education Requirements

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As stated above you won't need a degree to test for the CADC but you'll need quite a bit of formal education. Because you do need a master’s degree for the CAADC you should make this degree your long-term goal and plan your education accordingly.

Your first concern before enrollment is to verify your school of choice is a MCBAP approved provider. Then you should make sure the program you've chosen includes the required coursework as outlined above. Because a bachelor’s degree is only 120 hours you can make this your first step toward certification as you complete the 300 hours of required coursework for your CADC; you can then complete your master’s degree requirements within a year or two.

If an internship is part of your educational program, make sure it qualifies as work experience. You should also verify that you have a CCS in place for any paid or voluntary work you complete as part of your classes.

Testing Process for Michigan

To qualify to sit for the exam you must be a resident of the State of Michigan for 51 percent of the year. You can download the documents needed to apply for testing via the MCBAP website and will need to submit the following documentation as well as a $175 application fee:

  • Application form
  • Documentation of Experience Form
  • Supervision Form
  • Documentation of Education Form
  • Education Form for Undocumented Events
  • Testing, Academic Equivalents, and Ethics Training Form
  • Signed Code of Ethics Form

You will receive notification of approval via email from the IC&RC/ADC in four to six weeks and at that time will be notified of your testing time and location. You will be required to pass the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Drug Counselor written examination before you can earn certification.

Clinical Supervision Explained

Clinical supervision is the area of substance abuse certification that helps others attain their credentials in the field. A CSS is tasked with mentoring, evaluating, and teaching as well as a wide range of other supervisory roles such as:

  • Ensure that supervisees obtain documented informed consent from clients as appropriate.
  • Use and teach various ethical decision-making models
  • Provide timely guidance and consultation to supervisees in situations that present moral, legal, and/or ethical dilemmas
  • Ensure that supervisees maintain accurate, complete, and necessary documentation
  • Understand the reporting process for ethical violations
  • Intervene and take action as necessary when a supervisee’s job performance appears to be a problem

Renewal and Continuing Education

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Your credential expires every two year and you'll be required to renew at that time. During that two-year time frame you must complete a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education. At least half of those hours must be in substance use disorders (SUD) and the remaining must be in relation to AADC Performance Domains. You may not take the same course twice in a 12-month period.

Up to 50 percent of your continuing education may be met through the following alternatives:

  • Teaching: up to 12 contact hours for teaching an approved class
  • Publishing in a professional journal: publishing over 4,000 words in a professional journal is equivalent to 12 contact hours
  • Presenting SUD related papers: presenting at a state or national conference related specifically to the field of substance abuse counseling is equal to 12 contact hours

Associations for Michigan

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As you begin your path to substance abuse certification you should plan to join one or more professional organizations as soon as you enroll in your school of choice. Membership in associations will keep you abreast of the latest news concerning your filed as well as provide mentorship, networking opportunities, educational opportunities, and many other benefits as you navigate your career goals. Here are some organizations that will help you become a substance abuse counselor in Michigan:

  • MACMHB – Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards
  • MCA – Michigan Counseling Association
  • MAADAC – Michigan Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • MPA – Michigan Psychological Association
  • NAADAC – National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • NADCP – National Association of Drug Court Professionals
  • MSMS – Michigan State Medical Society
  • ASAM - American Society of Addiction Medicine