Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements in Oregon: The Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor Path

Oregon administrative code describes minimum requirements for substance abuse treatment staff. Treatment staff may be licensed or certified. Licensure may be in any of multiple health or mental health disciplines. Addiction-specific certification can be earned through the Addiction Counselor Certification Board of Oregon (ACCBO). ACCBO is affiliated with the Association for Addiction Professionals, or NAADAC. A master’s level candidate may apply directly through NAADAC.

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Standards for State Substance Abuse Treatment Staff

Oregon administrative code defines 'substance use disorders treatment staff' to mean a person who is certified or licensed by a qualifying agency.

Residential substance abuse counselors must either hold an acceptable credential or achieve one within two years; they are to be registered by the end of their first six months. Additionally, certified treatment staff must meet the following requirements: They must have completed at least 150 hours of education and 750 hours of supervised experience. They must have gone through an examination or portfolio review process by their certifying body.

Licensed professionals may serve as substance abuse treatment staff at residential facilities on the strength of credentials issued by any of the following Oregon boards:

  • Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists
  • Board of Licensed Social Workers
  • Board of Medical Examiners
  • Board of Nursing
  • Board of Psychologist Examiners

In each case, the licensed professional will need 60 contact hours of substance use disorder education; this may take the form of continuing education or academic education.

A person may achieve supervisor status at a residential facility on the basis of a qualifying license or certification. A certified supervisor will need at least 300 hours of education and training. He or she will need at least 4,000 hours of supervised experience. Minimum social service experience depends on academic level.

A person who is licensed in a qualifying health field must have 120 hours of related education before he or she can act as a clinical supervisor.

Achieving Alcohol Drug Counselor Certification

ACCBO issues three Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor (CADC) certifications, corresponding to three categories of the SAMHSA Scope of Practice and Career Ladder. An Oregon counselor may go by the title CADC I, CADC II, or CADC III. The distinction is based largely on educational level.

The Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor I (CADC I) certification is considered associate level. However, an associate degree is not required. A person can meet equivalency standards through a combination of role-specific education, supervised practicum, and examination.

The individual will need 150 hours of education. It is to include the following:

  • Pharmacology of alcohol and drugs of abuse
  • Basic counseling skills
  • Group counseling skills
  • ASAM clinical evaluation
  • Counseling ethics
  • HIV AIDS risk assessment and reduction

The two counseling skills courses cannot be completed through distance education.

The trainee will need 1,000 hours of supervised experience. Competencies are based on CSAT Technical Assistance Publication Number 21 (TAP 21). The experienced must include minimum hours in seven domains. Some domains include multiple areas of competence. Domain 4, for example, includes case management, discharge planning, and relapse prevention; a prospective CADC I will need at least 50 hours in each. Work experience is to be supervised by a professional who is certified at the advanced level. ACCBO can accept any of multiple certifications.

The CADC I candidate will take the National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC I) examination.

The CADC II requires a bachelor's or bachelor's equivalency. (A person whose highest degree is at the associate level can earn the certification if he or she has the require alcohol and drug counseling coursework and sufficient total credit hours.)

A CADC II will need 300 hours of alcohol and drug education. He or she will need all courses required at the CADC I level, plus coursework in co-occurring disorders and counseling of diverse populations; a course in dual or multiple diagnosis will fulfill the co-occurring disorders requirement. General courses in fields such as psychology are not credited toward the 300 hours.

The candidate will take the NCAC II examination. He or she will also take a case presentation examination or jurisprudence examination. The CADC I certification can be granted after the candidate has passed the NCAC II. A person who fails an attempt at the case presentation or jurisprudence exam can retain his or her status as CADC I. Re-examination is permitted, subject to ACCBO policy.

Fully 4,000 hours of supervised experience are required at the CADC II level. The certification agency has again set minimum hours in the various alcohol and drug counseling domains. At this level, an eighth domain is introduced. The eighth domain includes competencies such as curriculum and program development and quality assurance.

A CADC III must have a degree at at least the master's level. The experience requirement is 6,000 hours. Certification at this level is also dependent on passing two examinations: the Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) exam and a jurisprudence or case presentation exam.

The Certification Application Process

Candidate handbooks can be downloaded from the ACCBO website (http://accbo.com/forms.php). Application forms are contained within the candidate handbook. The applicant will sign an ethics agreement. The application handbook includes materials for documenting education and supervised practice.

Candidates apply before examination. Currently, the objective examination is offered on a monthly basis. Applications are due approximately two months in advance; deadlines are found in the applicant handbook. A CADC II or III candidate will receive information about scheduling the second examination once he or she has passed the objective examination.

Reciprocity

ACCBO can issue reciprocal certification to professionals who hold equivalent licenses and certifications in other jurisdictions; this includes those who are credentialed by boards that are members of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium, or IC&RC. The reciprocity application includes a “credential conversion” for neighboring states. A Nevada LADC, for example, can be considered for reciprocity in Oregon at the CADC II level.

Renewal

CADCs recertify every two years. They must complete a continuing education requirement and affirm that they have not misused substances during the prior two year period.

Additional Information

Information about substance abuse counselor certification is available from the Addiction Counselor Certification Board of Oregon (http://accbo.com/). ACCBO can be reached by email at 'accbo at accbo.com'.

Information about the state's substance abuse services is available from Oregon Addictions and Mental Health Services (http://www.oregon.gov/OHA/amh/pages/index.aspx).

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