Alcohol & Drug Counseling

Substance abuse is widely recognized as one of the top health and economic problems in the USA—attracting widespread attention. While there are many specialized treatment methods that are known to reduce or eliminate substance abuse, there is an identified shortage of qualified addiction counselors to skillfully implement these treatments.

Social work students should be aware of a professional credential, the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) certification, that is valued by third party reimbursement agencies and addiction treatment employers with comparable respect and compensation as the Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW) certificate within the broader field of mental health.

Since 2004, the Kent School has prepared students for entry level jobs as alcohol and drug counselors or case managers with a specialized course of study known as the Alcohol and Drug Counseling Specialization (ADCS). The ADCS program has three primary objectives:

  • Create recognition of a student’s commitment and expertise in substance abuse treatment,
  • Help the students compete for alcohol and drug counseling jobs.
  • Satisfy some of the requirements for obtaining the CADC credential (see State credentialing requirements).

ADCS student benefits

Students who prepare themselves for a career in addiction counseling have a better chance of employment in the field and satisfy some requirements of the CADC. Past students have reported that the ADCS provides a competitive advantage when applying for substance abuse jobs, and that it is viewed as a plus in all counseling interviews, given that substance abuse is a major factor adversely affecting most social work populations.

Some of the Kentucky CADC requirements are satisfied while completing requirements of the ADCS and ADCT programs.

They fully satisfy the 270 hours of ADCS classroom hour requirements (see disclaimer).

They satisfy some of the 300 hours of the CADC supervision requirement when and if we are able to place students in practicum placements where they are supervised by a CADC.

The CADC work hours of on the job addiction treatment practice experience are described under 201 KAR 35:070.  A post graduate work hour requirements of 6,000 hours is reduced to 2,000 hours for students who complete the MSSW degree with an ADCS.

Requirements of the KY CADC certification

Students interested in the CADC certification program are responsible for understanding all requirements of the CADC program in your state (see disclaimer). The ADCS program was designed to fit with KY CADC requirements published on the Alcohol and Drug Counselors web site at For a summary of current KY state CADC requirements, we recommend that you locate and review the current application for a CADC. Note: The ADCS does not satisfy all requirements of the CADC. Students are responsible for verifying the current requirements and remaining current on changes in the CADC requirements (see disclaimer).

ADCS Requirements

Enrollment: The ADCS is awarded to Kent School students, concurrent with the award of their MSSW degree. Kent graduates or other post bachelor students who wish to take ADCS courses, should contact the Kent School student enrollment staff or the program Director listed at the bottom of this page about current status of enrollment in classes. There are three requirements for completing the ADCS program:

Satisfactorily complete three elective classes (listed below) with a grade of B or better,

Satisfactorily complete the advanced practicum in a substance abuse treatment setting

Required Classes and Availability

In addition to the normal requirements of the MSSW program, students must receive a grade of a “B” or better on the three ADCS core classes taken in any order (no prerequisites).

  • SW660 for MSSW students and SW360 (or SW397) for BSW students: Motivation and change (offered in Fall, Spring and Summer semesters)
  • SW661 for MSSW students and SW361 for BSW students: Special issues in drug and alcohol counseling (offered in Fall and Spring semesters)
  • SW662 for MSSW students and SW362 for BSW students: Substance Use and Substance Use Disorder (to be offered in Spring as a normal class, and in the Summer as an online class)
  • SW672 for MSSW students: Fall advanced practicum class
  • SW673 for MSSW students: Spring advanced practicum class

ADCS Enrollment

Submit a 3 page professional development paper discussing your interests, past experience in the substance abuse field, need for professional development, potential contribution and plans after graduation.

Students must apply to specializations by December 15th during the December before their Advanced (final) year of study.

Related Contact Information and Links


Dr. Seana Golder: Email Dr. Golder

Dr. Martin Hall:  Email Dr. Hall

For questions about the program, contact MSSW Admissions Coordinator:  Email coordinator

KY CADC board and requirements: Visit for requirements and application for the KY CADC.


The University is not affiliated with any CADC board, and cannot be held responsible for errors or inaccuracies that may exist in this document. The student is responsible for working with their respective CADC state board in completing requirements and applying for this credential.  In Kentucky, the student must verify any information related to the process of obtaining a CADC at Approval for hours of supervision, and classroom hours are based upon prior board member statements and approvals. However, the CADC laws and regulations are subject to interpretation and change without notice. For these and other reasons, the Kent School of Social Work, nor the University of Louisville, can warrant or guarantee accuracy of this CADC information or approval of their requirements.