If you’re considering a career as an alcohol and drug counselor in Nevada, you’ll need to know where to begin.

Nevada has three levels of licensure available to substance abuse counselors in the state, and each one has its own set of education and experience requirements. Prospective counselors will need to identity their goals before choosing the path that fits their career needs.

Keep reading to learn more about how to become a substance abuse counselor in Nevada.


Nevada requires all substance abuse counselors to be licensed or certified before they’re permitted to practice. The Nevada State Board of Examiners for Alcohol, Drug, and Gambling Counselors certifies all the credentials available to counselors.

Before they’re eligible to obtain a full certification, all prospective counselors must earn a degree in social science, complete a predetermined number of supervised practice hours, and pass both a written and an oral exam.

Substance abuse counselors in Nevada may not have experienced any issues with alcohol, drug, or gambling addiction in the last two years. They must also have not been on probation or parole during that time. Counselors must be at least 21 years of age at the time of licensing.

It’s worth noting that Nevada uses a different certification process for Native American Alcohol and Drug Counselors (NACADCs). This involves a separate set of education requirements, but the basic eligibility factors remain the same.

Types of Licensure


Nevada offers three main types of licensure to counselors seeking a career path in the field of addiction counseling and recovery.

The first step for many prospective counselors is to begin at the CADC-Intern level. This involves integration of experience and education early on in a candidate’s career.

Individuals who already hold a college degree will be eligible for certification based on their level of education. Substance abuse counselors who hold a bachelor’s degree are known as Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADC). Counselors with a master’s level degree may be eligible for licensure as a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC).

Counselors may also obtain the Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) credential by adding a comprehensive knowledge of mental health disorders to their clinical repertoire.

CADC-Intern Requirements

Prospective counselors who are still in the process of completing their education requirements are called Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Interns (CADC-Interns).This credential allows students to gain experience as an alcohol and drug counselor while still working toward their degree.

To qualify as a CADC-Intern, students must have a high school diploma or GED, and must be enrolled in college classes. (Students who aren’t currently in school must submit an affidavit stating their intent to enroll at the beginning of the next semester). The education requirement for non-degreed interns allows for a great deal of scheduling flexibility; students aren’t obligated to take more than one course per semester.

The CADC-Intern must enter a Supervision Agreement with a licensed and approved supervisor, with the intern being directly supervised for at least one hour per week. The supervisor themselves must observe the intern’s work for at least one hour per month. The agreement states that the intern should receive evaluations from their supervisor every six months.

Education Requirements for CADC, LDAC, and LCADC

Each level of licensing for Nevada alcohol and drug counselors has different education requirements. Here’s a rundown of what’s needed before counselors can take the exam and obtain licensure in their desired area.

CADC Education Requirements

CADC candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree in a social science subject. In this case, social sciences indicate a topic of study focusing on the human mind and/or mental illness. Examples of relevant social science concentrations include:

  • Counseling substance abusers
  • Counseling problem gamblers
  • Criminal justice
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology
  • Social work

Other degree programs may also be considered for eligibility as long as it contains a minimum of 24 semester hours of coursework related to counseling. Students who complete a minimum of 18 semester hours studying addiction topics may qualify for a drastically reduced practical experience requirement.

LADC and LCADC Education Requirements

A graduate degree in a social science is required for prospective counselors to be eligible for both LADC and LCADC licensure. Approved topics of study include:

  • Alcohol and substance abuse or gambling counseling
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Psychology

Master’s programs that include at least 24 hours of counseling related classwork may qualify as well. Contact the Nevada Board with questions about a specific degree.

Candidates who hold a master’s degree may be eligible for a reduced experience requirement if they’ve completed at least 12 semester hours covering addiction topics.

For individuals who wish to pursue their LCADC, the master’s degree must contain more clinical subjects than the LADC or CADC requires. Prospective LCADCs must complete courses covering a comprehensive study of mental health disorders, as well as the diagnosis of mental disorders.

Supervised Experience Requirements


In order to advance beyond the intern level, substance abuse counselors seeking licensure will need to complete a predetermined number of experience hours. The specifics of this requirement vary greatly based on prospective counselors’ education levels.

Candidates without any post-secondary education in addiction topics will need to complete at least 4,000 hours of practical training to achieve the CADC or LADC credentials. Candidates whose bachelor's or master's degree involved an understanding of addiction topics may be eligible for a reduced experience requirement of 1,500 hours.

Individuals pursuing a career as a clinical alcohol and drug counselor are obligated to complete just 2,000 hours of experience. However, these hours must take place following graduation from an accredited degree program. The experience must include substance abuse treatment of clients with co-occurring mental disorders, and the diagnosis of such disorders.

Some social science professions allow for easy transition into the field of substance abuse counseling. Candidates who hold a graduate degree and are working as a social worker, nurse, or family therapist, for example, may be eligible to receive licensure as a clinical addiction counselor following six months of supervised experience.

Examination Requirements


After completing the experience requirement, prospective counselors must take both an oral and written examination. The exams for the CADC and LADC credentials are administered by the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

Candidates working toward a CADC will need to take the Level II written exam. Upon passing with a 70% or higher, they will be eligible to take the oral exam.

Prospective LADCs will need to take the Master Addiction Counselors (MAC) exam. After passing with a 70% or higher, they can move on to the oral exam.

Individuals seeking licensure as a clinical alcohol and drug counselor will need to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling (NCMHC) exam. This is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Testing dates and locations can be found on the Board's website. Candidates who have completed all of the requirements for the exam but have yet to take the test can practice under a provisional license from the state of Nevada.

The exam is not required for those already holding the Licensed Clinical Social Work credential, as well as psychologists and marriage and family therapists.

After passing both the written and oral exams (if required), candidates should be eligible to submit an application for licensure to the Board, as well as copies of fingerprints for a background check and an application fee of $150.

In total, prospective counselors can expect to pay $480. This includes a fee of $170 for the written exam, $100 for the oral exam, the $150 application fee, and a $60 processing fee.

Renewal/Continuing Education


A substance abuse counselor license in Nevada must be renewed every two years.

In that time, counselors are required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of continued education. Three of these hours must be spent in ethics training. An additional three hours must be spent reviewing confidentiality standards and HIPAA laws.

Unlike some states, Nevada allows for 100 percent of continued education hours to be completed online.

In order to count toward the 40-hour requirement, continued education classes must be provided by an approved source. Credit hours may not already count toward an ongoing degree or on-the-job training.

Counselors must submit an affidavit describing the nature of their continued education hours. The Board advises that counselors hold on to records of hours for three years following the submission of each affidavit.

Associations in Nevada

Drug and alcohol counselors in Nevada may join industry associations to stay on top of rules and regulations in a frequently changing field.

The State of Nevada Association for Addiction Professionals (SNAAP) is a great resource for substance abuse counselors in the state. Membership in this association also grants counselors membership in the NAADAC.