Are you interested in finding out how to become a substance abuse counselor in Montana? Addiction counselors within the state are provided licensure by the Montana Board of Behavioral Health (BBH). The Board only offers one level of licensure. This certification is the Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC).
Degree Requirements & Education
The LAC has many different degree and education paths for those who want to become an addiction counselor in Montana. There are four different options:
- The applicant holds an Associate’s Degree in alcohol and/or drug studies.
- The applicant holds an Associate’s Degree in a different field but has completed 6 semester hours in human behavior, sociology, psychology, or a related field, 3 semester hours in psychopathology or any course that is related to abnormal behavior, and 9 semester hours of counseling classes where 6 of these hours are in group counseling and 3 are in counseling theory.
The applicant holds a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in alcohol and drug studies, psychology, sociology, social work, or counseling.
- The applicant holds a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in any non-related field but has completed 6 semester hours in human behavior, sociology, psychology, or a related field, 3 semester hours in psychopathology or any course that is related to abnormal behavior, and 9 semester hours of counseling classes where 6 of these hours are in group counseling and 3 are in counseling theory.
- Applicants are required to take certain hours and classes. 1 semester credit is equal to 15 contact hours. Applicants must take 330 contact hours of addiction courses in these areas:
- 60 hours of chemical dependency assessment, biopsychosocial testing, diagnosis, referrals, and patient placement
- 90 hours of counseling
- 30 hours of pharmacology (drug classification, effects, detoxification, withdrawal, etc.)
- 10 hours of ethics
- 30 hours of drug and alcohol studies
- 30 hours of treatment planning and documentation
- 20 hours of multicultural competency
- 30 hours of co-occurring disorders
- 30 hours of gambling addiction
Experience Requirements & Supervision
LAC applicants must complete 1,000 hours of supervised work experience. All supervisors the applicant has during this time (and the applicant) must sign the Training and Supervision Form.
Application & Criminal Background Check
Prior to application, applicants must complete a fingerprint and criminal background check. When it comes to who completes the background check, the applicant has 2 options:
- Local law enforcement agency such as police department or sheriff’s department (estimated processing time to send results to the Board is 4 to 8 weeks)
- Montana Department of Justice (MDOJ), Division of Criminal Investigations Criminal Records in Helena, Montana, (406) 444-3625. (Estimated processing time to send results to the Board is 3 to 5 business days.)
If the applicant chooses to use a local law enforcement agency then they should call ahead to verify they offer the correct Fingerprint Card (Form FD258). Each location has different fees. Also if using a local law enforcement agency, the applicant will need to mail in the Fingerprint Card in a manila envelope with a check or money order (made out to Montana Department of Justice) in the amount of $30 to:
Montana Criminal Records
2225 Eleventh Avenue
PO Box 201403
Helena, MT 59620
There is an application fee of $250. If the applicant applies online they can pay by e-check or credit card. Those who mail in their application may pay by check, but NOT cash. Applicants can apply online (the Board recommends online application) or by mail.
LAC applicants in Montana have a very broad range of qualifying exams. They may take any of the following:
- National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors
- Certification Commission (level I or II)
- Northwest Certification II
- Southwest Certification II
- MAC exam
- IC&RC Alcohol & Drug Counselor (ADC) Exam or Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (AADC)
The IC&RC offers online study materials such as candidate guides, online practice tests and more: IC&RC Exam Prep.
Applicants must renew their license every year prior to June 30. The recertification fee is $150.