Substance Abuse Counseling in Colorado

Substance Abuse Licensing Resource, Colorado

In the state of Colorado there are four different levels of certification that can be achieved. Upon certification one may apply for a license. There are three different licenses available to those who are looking to become a licensed substance abuse counselor. Licenses are issued by the The Colorado State Board of Licensed Professional Counselor Examiners.

Levels of Certification

There are four different levels of certification that all have different educational and experience requirements. They are known as Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) I, II, III, and Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC). Classes that are required can be taken at different colleges or universities. For example, this page from Metropolitan State University of Denver shows what classes are approved for the different levels: Education Equivalency

Some class credits may be equivalent to the required classes. You can find out if your classes are equivalent here.


CAC I is the first level of certification one can achieve. This is where the applicant would start. A high school diploma or GED is required to become CAC I certified. One must take the CAC I approved classes. The applicant must also have 1,000 hours of supervised hands-on work experience in the behavioral health field. There is no exam required.

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Like the CAC I, the highest level of education required is a high school diploma or GED. The CAC II applicant will need to take the approved classes at a college or university. Upon completing the approved courses, the applicant will need 2,000 hours, in addition to the 1,000 hours required for the CAC I, of supervised hands-on work experience in the field of psychotherapy. There is a national exam required for this level of certification. After the applicant passes the exam and receives their certificate they will be allowed to practice as a counselor.


The applicant must pass the national exam required for CAC II. The exam required is NCAC I. The Colorado Association of Addiction Professionals (CAAP) administers the tests. If the applicant is a member of the parent organization, National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), the exam will have a fee of $200. If the applicant is not a member, the fee will be $215.


Once the applicant has achieved the CAC II level and passed the exam, they can become CAC III certified. However, this level requires a clinical Bachelor’s degree in behavioral health sciences. The applicant must also take the required training classes for the CAC III. Another 2,000 hours working in the field of psychotherapy are required. These hours are in addition to the hours worked in the CAC I and II levels. There is a national exam required.


The exam required for CAC III is NCAC II. The fee for this test is $200 for the NAADAC members and $225 to non-members.


One who wishes to become a Licensed Addiction Counselor must have firstly achieved CAC III. The applicant must have a clinical Master’s or Doctorate degree. Lastly, the applicant must take and pass the required exam.


The Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) exam is the final exam the applicant needs to pass to become an LAC.

Study Resources Available

There is a practice exam the applicant can take online, as well as links to other study material. Find the study guides here. Training Facilities & Clinical Programs

There are many different training facilities and clinical programs located on the CAAP website:

Licenses Available In Colorado

There are three different licenses available. Each license has different requirements which will be listed below.

    1. Certified Addiction Technician
    2. Certified Addiction Specialist
    3. Addiction Counselor Candidate
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License Forms & Applications

License forms and applications can be found online for all three licenses. They can be found here:

Online Handbook for Addiction Counselor Clinical Training Program

Handbook for Addiction Counselors (CAC/LAC).pdf

License Renewal

Counselor licenses expire August 31 of every odd numbered year. Renewal applications become available around six weeks before the expiration date occurs. Once you have an account with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), you can sign in and apply for renewal. Apply for renewal here! There is a 60 day grace period after the expiration date for counselors to continue their practice with the expired license.