Massachusetts Substance Abuse Certification

Addiction Studies Resources, Massachusetts

Those who wish to obtain the licensure or certification of a substance abuse counselor in the state of Massachusetts will do so through the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services’ (BSAS) Alcohol and Drug Counselor Licensing Unit or the Massachusetts Board of Substance Abuse Counselor Certification (MBSACC). The BSAS is very serious about providing help to those in need, even without insurance. Nobody is turned away. That being said, there is a very large need for substance abuse counselors in Massachusetts.

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There are 3 different types of Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) licenses available from the Bureau: LADC Assistant, LADC II, and LADC I. All 3 levels require the applicants to:

  • Be 18 years or older and prove so with a birth certificate, drivers license, or passport
  • Obtain 3 letters of recommendation
  • Pay the required exam fee and pass the required exam by IC&RC
  • Pay the required licensing fee

LADC Assistant

The LADC Assistant is the most basic level of licensure. The assistant is permitted to treat patients for substance or alcohol addiction under direct clinical supervision. All LADC Assistant applicant must:

  • Provide a high school diploma or equivalency
  • Have at least 50 hours of training in all areas relevant to substance abuse counseling
  • Work 2,000 hours in the alcohol and drug addiction field


The LADC II is the next level of licensure. This level of licensure requires more training, education, and experience than the assistant level. The LADC II is able to practice alcohol and drug addiction counseling. The LADC I is the highest level of licensure in Massachusetts. This level of licensure allows the counselor to practice independently as well as supervise other lower levels. The requirements are as follows:

  • LADC II requires at least a high school diploma or equivalency, while the
  • LADC I requires a master’s or doctoral degree in behavioral sciences
  • Have at least 270 hours of training in all areas relevant to substance abuse counseling
  • Complete 300 hours of supervised practical training
  • Work 6,000 hours in the alcohol and drug counseling field (for LADC II- 4,000 hours if applicant holds a Bachelor’s degree)
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All applicants must apply either online or over the phone. Either way they must contact Ian Bain, LADC coordinator for access to application. He can be reached by phone at (781) 774-6627 or by email at Ian.Bain@State.MA.US. If you are unsure of what level of licensure you qualify for you can check here on the official LADC Self Assessment Form. In order to apply, the applicant will need to send a filled out copy of this to the LADC coordinator.


All exams for all levels of licensure will be administered by the IC&RC. The exam registration process will be done upon approval of application. The registration form for the exam is found here: LADC Exam Registration Form. All registration is done through the MBSACC. The exam fee is $350.

Some may find helpful study guides and practice exams for a fee on the IC&RC’s website: IC&RC Exam Prep.


All licenses must be renewed every two years. The expiration date will be 2 years from the original issue date. 40 clock hours of continuing education will be required every two years for renewal. 50% of these hours may be done online/distance learning.

Approved Programs

Find all of the Bureau approved education programs for Massachusetts substance abuse counselors here: Approved Education Programs.

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Other Credentials

Through the MBSACC there are 3 other certifications related to the addictions field. Since these are certifications and not licenses, they are not obtained through the Bureau, but through the Board. The 3 levels of certification are Certified Alcoholism Counselor (CAC), Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC), and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (CADC II). To find out more about these certifications versus the licenses, click here.

For questions about the CAC or CADC certifications, please contact the certification coordinator, Jackie Cummins, at or by phone at (508) 842-8707.