Alcohol and Drug Counselor Requirements in Georgia: Pathways to Certification

Georgia substance abuse counselors work under third party certification. According to state code, addiction counselors are exempt from professional licensure by the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers & Marriage and Family Therapists if they hold certification through the Georgia Addiction Counselors Association or another similar organization and are limiting their work to activities that are within their scope of practice.

The Georgia Addiction Counselors Association is the state affiliate of the Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). Georgia also has an affiliate of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium/ Alcohol and Other Drug (IC&RC/ AOD); it is the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia.

Addiction counselors who are in the process of meeting certification requirements through an acceptable organization may also be exempted, for a limited period, from licensing requirements.

A person who is exempt from requirements for licensure as a professional counselor (or social worker or marriage and family therapist), however, may still seek licensure. Many Georgia professionals hold dual (or multiple) credentials. Licensure as a professional counselor requires education at the master's level. Substance abuse counseling positions do not necessarily require education at this level -- though a number of positions do.

Capella University offers three online CACREP - accredited Master's programs: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy and School Counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.

Antioch University offers a new Online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program that is in the CACREP accreditation process and mirrors the CACREP-accredited program delivered on campus. Specializations in: Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling (SAAC) and Counseling Military Service Personnel and their Families (MSPF). Antioch is a private, not-for-profit university. (*This program is NOT available to students in CA, IL, IA, KS, MO, NH, ND)

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Minimum Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification Requirements in Georgia

Minimum certification requirements are described in state code. Included are the following:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • 4,000 hours of work experience under appropriate supervision
  • 180 hours of education in addictions and addiction treatment
  • 220 hours of supervision by a qualified supervisor

Attaining Certification through the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia

The Alcohol & Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia offers Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor I and II (CADC I and II) and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC) credentials. Degree level determines what credential a substance abuse counselor will be eligible for. Degrees at the bachelor's level and higher result in higher certification -- and entail slightly shorter work experience periods.

The CADC I is attainable with a high school diploma or equivalency. The candidate must have 6,000 hours of experience. The candidate will take the Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) examination after his or her application has been approved.

The CADC II requires a bachelor's degree. The prospective CADC will need 4,000 hours of experience.

The CAADC requires a master's degree. The master’s must be in the human services and must include clinical application. The candidate must accrue 4,000 hours of experience and pass the IC&RC Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor Examination.

Each of the above certification is dependent on completion of 300 hours of addiction-specific education. Education is to be based on core alcohol and drug counseling functions. Six hours are to be in ethics. The prospective alcohol and drug counselor must have 300 hours of training. Training can include activities such as observation, co-leading, and group supervision. The supervisee will need at least 100 hours of supervision for every 2,000 experience hours. Supervision may be provided by 1) a professional who holds any of multiple approved intermediate or advanced addiction certifications or 2) a licensed behavioral health practitioner who has pursued continuing education in addictions or co-occurring disorders at a level acceptable to ADACBGA. Some approved certifications are issued by NAADAC boards.

The applicant will provide three professional recommendations and sign a code of ethics.

Alcohol and drug counselors recertify every two years. They are responsible for earning 40 hours of continuing education.

Achieving Certification through the Georgia Addiction Counselors Association

The Georgia Addiction Counselors Association offers Certified Addiction Counselor I (CAC I) and Certified Addiction Counselor II (CAC II) certifications.

The CAC I can be attained with a high school diploma or GED and 180 hours of education that addresses alcohol and drug abuse and/ or related counseling topics. GACA requires training in cultural diversity, ethics, and HIV/ AIDS. The candidate must accrue 4,000 experience hours and must have at least 96 hours of supervision by a professional who has been recognized as a Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS) by GACA. A CAC I candidate will take the NCC AP exam. Information is available from NAADAC ( However, the prospective certificate holder will submit his or her application materials to GACA.

The CAC II requires a bachelor's degree and 270 hours of education in accepted topics. The prospective CAC II will need to accrue 6,000 experience hours and receive 144 hours of supervision by a CCS.

Applicants at either level must sign the NAADAC code of ethics and arrange to have two references sent.

GACA has stated that reciprocity applicants must demonstrate that they have had the minimum hours of alcohol/ drug/ counseling coursework, experience, and clinical supervision required for their certification level.

GACA certification is also issued for two years.

Additional Information

Information about alcohol and drug counselling certification is available from the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia ( ADACBGA can be reached at 'info at' or (770) 825-0481.

Information about addiction counseling certification is available from the Georgia Addiction Counselors Association, the state NAADAC affiliate. GACA can be reached at 770-434-1000.

Information about professional counseling licensure is available from the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers & Marriage and Family Therapists ( 478-207-2440).

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