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Certified Addiction Counselor

Training Series for State CAC Certification 

The Center for Professional Development is proud to offer Certified Addiction Counseling (CAC) trainings at the University of Denver. Choose from a la carte options for the seven courses or take them consecutively during our CAC Camp! Additionally, CPD is offering LAC Exam Prep courses to prepare you for your CAC certification and a substance abuse consultation series for those who have completed their CAC training. Scroll down for more information on our CAC programming and how to register. For more information about CAC clinical training please download the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health Handbook for addiction Counselors or visit the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agency homepage.

Our certified instructors Thea Wessel (LPC, MAC, LAC) and Erin Gazelka (JD, MA, LPC, LAC) will lead you to complete the courses you need for certification.

Read about the instructors


Thea Wessel is an addiction counselor with her own private practice in Colorado. She has been working in the criminal and addiction fields for seven years. Ms. Wessel earned her master's degree in forensic psychology from the University of Denver and has also earned her LPC, LAC and MAC. She is currently the president of the Colorado Association of addiction Professionals (CAAP) and also teaches as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver. Ms. Wessel continually challenges herself and others to provide quality addiction treatment and to educate the community about addiction issues.

Erin Gazelka, JD, MA, LPC, LAC

Erin Gazelka is a therapist and clinician in Denver, Colorado. Ms. Gazelka earned her Master of Arts degree in Forensic Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver in 2009. She also earned her Juris Doctorate degree from William Mitchell College of Law in 2007 and is a licensed, inactive attorney in both Minnesota and Colorado. Ms. Gazelka is currently practicing as both a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Addiction Counselor. She has primarily practiced in the context of forensic issues for the past seven years, providing therapy and assessment services to adult offenders in the community corrections and parole systems. She has provided acute mental health care and suicide and violence risk assessment in Jefferson County Jail for six years. She has extensive experience facilitating a variety of groups and individual therapy, including inpatient and outpatient substance abuse groups. Ms. Gazelka is currently a provider for Kaiser Permanente and has helped develop and facilitate the Intensive Outpatient Program for severe and persistent mental illness at Highline Behavioral Health. Prior experience has included work as a guardian ad litem and drug treatment counselor for juveniles on probation. She also wrote proposed changes to legislation and developed curricula for teaching legal and psychological issues while working as a legal research for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The revised addiction Counselor Certification and Licensure Rules (CAC Rules) can be found on the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health website and please view the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health CAC Handbook here

Why do I need substance abuse training?

No child ever said, "I want to be an addict." Yet our society believes addiction is a choice therefore, stopping is a simple matter of “saying no.” But addiction is a much more complex problem than most people realize. As a counselor, it is important to be trained in addiction (the pharmacology, the interview techniques, the ethics) in order to appropriately treat individuals who are struggling with a substance use disorder. If you lack an understanding of the impact of specific substances on the brain and body, and the increased risk of this behavior, there is a potential to do harm. By educating yourself through the Certified Addiction Counselor series, you are becoming a counselor who better understands the impact of drugs on your client’s body, mind and lifestyle, and in helping them to find the most appropriate path forward out of addiction.

Programming and Course Descriptions
Who should take these CAC courses?

Addiction is universal and prevalent in many career fields. Likewise, addiction counseling is an area where there is a great need for people who are interested in understanding the complicated dynamics of the disorder. Therefore, these courses are available to anyone who is interested in a career path that could intersect with addiction. (i.e. criminal justice, medical, mental health)

What certification can I earn if I complete the courses and supervised hours

There are many levels to addiction treatment in Colorado. You can customize your training on how you plan to utilize the credential.

  • CAC I allows individuals to provide psycho-educational material regarding addiction.
  • CAC II allows individuals to provide psycho-educational material and treatment for addiction.
  • CAC III allows individuals to provide psycho-educational material, treatment for addiction and supervision for new professionals in the field.
  • The Licensed addiction Counselor is a license that allows one to provide and bill third party payers for treatment services.
Why CAC Camp?

This camp was created by therapists who went through the experience of having to take each CAC class separately over an extended period. This process was long. It required seeking the classes out through multiple agencies, watching for popular classes to open up, and having to take two- and three-day segments off of work several months in a row. It also required having to track prerequisites and making phone calls to see what courses were necessary or required. Since you are paying anywhere from $150 to $350 for these class segments individually, it was completely unsettling to find you paid for and completed a class you were not required to take. The summer CAC Camp lines up all seven courses needed for a Masters-level clinician to apply for a Certified Addiction Counselor-II certification. It provides these courses in a three-week period. Upon completion, a practicing clinician with a Masters degree can take a MAC exam, complete the application for a CAC-II, and submit for this CAC-II certification. CAC-II providers are able to run substance abuse groups. Agencies benefit by having providers who are actually certified as they are required to keep a percentage of their staff with actual substance abuse certifications to maintain agency licensure with the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH). Letting prospective employers know you have such a certification could help encourage employment for this reason. Even without the CAC-II in place, letting employers know you have completed the classes necessary and are applying for the certification is equally helpful for prospective employers.

Why CAC Camp at DU?

The CAC Camp at DU is also intended to 'raise the bar' on participant engagement and quality of information learned. Having the camp in an academic setting with other Masters-level students encourages a professional and academic discussion of the concepts required in the state-approved curricula. The curricula are all OBH-approved and offer a fresh perspective on the required topics as they are recently developed. In the several camps that have occurred over the past year, many students of the camp have mentioned this high level of conversation as a significant benefit of the CAC camp and contrast it with CAC classes available elsewhere. They have also discussed an additional benefit of the intimate setting of the camp. Class sizes are kept at a reasonable size to allow for in-depth and personal discussion. Students have discussed developing significant bonds with other students of the camps, as well as expanding their network in the camp setting. There are also frequent opportunities to talk with the facilitators of the camp and develop greater understanding of the current substance abuse treatment field in Colorado. The intensity of the camp in reference to taking the classes in close succession actually appears to enhance learning across the different courses and might facilitate improved retention for the purposes of the MAC exam itself.

What about CAC III?

A brief LAC Camp will also be offered for this first time this winter, December 2017. This camp incorporates the three additional courses need for a Master-level clinician to apply for the Licensed Addiction Counselor. Again, upon completion of this brief camp, a person holding a relevant Masters Degree need only take the MAC exam, apply for the license, and complete the necessary supervision hours to obtain the license. Agencies benefit by having providers who are actually certified or licensed as they are required to keep a percentage of their staff with actual substance abuse certifications to maintain agency licensure with the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH). Letting prospective employers know you are eligible for this license and require only supervision and clinical hours will increase the desirability of hiring you. Furthermore, the LAC does not require a two-year wait like the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) does. It allows for having a license much sooner after graduation from a Masters program. An LAC is able to operate as an LPC can while also being able to bill Medicaid for services.

Scroll down here to register for CPD CAC II Trainings! Need to complete the CAC I pre-requisites? Register HERE Click here for course descriptions.



July CAC Camp 2018

Back by popular demand!

Registration Opening Soon!

The Center for Professional Development is proud to offer Certified Addiction Counseling Trainings at the University of Denver. Join instructors Thea Wessel and Erin Gazelka and take the courses you need to complete your certification.

Take all seven courses at one time or choose whatever courses you still need a la carte!

Email to be the first notified about registration!

Read more here about CAC II requirements for the state of Colorado and why you should become a Certified Addiction Counselor.

What: Certified Addiction Counselor Training (CAC II)

1. Pharmacology I**: July 6-7
2. Principles of Addiction Treatment*: July 9-11
3. Professional Ethics II**: July 12-13
4. Pharmacology II**: July 16-17
5. Motivational Interviewing*: July 19-21
6. Infectious Diseases**: July 23-24
7. Group Counseling Skills*: July 26-28

*21 Contact Hours
**14 Contact Hours

University of Denver Campus
Exact location TBD

Time: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Cost: CAC Camp:
Professionals - $2549
DU Alumni and Students - $2399

A la carte:
$279 for 14 Contact Hours per session
$419 for 21 Contact Hours per session

All seven courses required for your CAC certification will be offered consecutively for a total 119 contact hour credits

INCLUDES: Certificates of completion

Read the details of each course


Prepare for the MAC exam 

Read about our exam-prep program!

The Center for Professional Development is proud to offer Certified Addiction Counseling License Exam Prep at the University of Denver. Join instructors Thea Wessel and Erin Gazelka to prep for your CAC license exam. The MAC is the most comprehensive addiction specialist exam. This course will prepare you for any level of licensure examination. 

Dates coming soon

Email here if interested

This intensive exam prep course is 4 Contact Hours 

$99 for professionals

INCLUDES: Certificate of completion

Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment 


Consultation Series

Read about the immersive consultation program

Coming Soon

Tuesdays 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. for ten weeks 

$1000 for the series 

Register today!

Thea Wessel leads this small consultation group (maximum of eight participants) which will provide a space for professionals to discuss their own caseloads and seek expert consultation and direction on working with clients suffering from substance use disorders. This consultation series may be available for a total of 20 APA CE. 

Course description and learning objectives coming soon! 



For more information contact the Center for Professional Development at  or 303-871-4161