Substance Abuse Counselor Certification in Idaho

Idaho substance abuse counselors must meet state mandates in order to be employed as Qualified Substance Use Disorder Professionals in Idaho behavioral health programs. Qualified Substance Use Disorder Professionals may be licensed professionals (for example, clinical social workers, clinical nurse specialists, or professional counselors). However, they do not have to be. A person can also be qualified on the basis of a recognized substance abuse certification.

Most Idaho alcohol and drug counselors will earn their certification through the Idaho Board of Alcohol/Drug Counselor Certification (IBADCC). The Idaho Board is one of about 70 member boards of the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium, or IC&RC.

Certification entails meeting supervised experience requirements as well as educational requirements. A person who is working toward professional certification may be employed as a Qualified Substance Use Disorders Trainee. Certification is by examination. Examination represents the final step in the qualification and application process.

Organizations such as Optum Idaho (Idaho Behavioral Health Plan) may set additional requirements. Some positions are reserved for licensed professionals. These licensed professionals are typically individuals who have education at the graduate level.

Although drug and alcohol counselors are exempted from the licensing law for professional counselors, some individuals may wish to pursue master’s level counseling programs and professional counseling licensure.

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IBADCC Certification: Educational Standards

A person can be considered a Qualified Substance Use Disorder Professional on the basis of either of two certifications earned through the Idaho Board of Alcohol/Drug Counselor Certification. They are Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor (CADC) and Advanced Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor (ACADC).

The CADC credential, unlike the ACADC, has no degree requirement, though academic degrees in the behavioral sciences will lessen the length of the supervised work period. The following are among the degrees considered to be behavioral science: alcohol/ drug studies, counseling, psychology, social science, social work, and sociology.

The prospective CADC will need 270 hours of education in the domains identified by the IC&RC. The Idaho has set minimum hours in particular domains (

Education can take various forms, including college courses and approved workshops or seminars. IBADCC places strict limits on hours earned through in-service; no more than five can be credited. There are multiple organizations besides IBADCC that are accepted as having the authority to approve workshops. On the list are two established national substance abuse credentialing organizations, the IC&RC and the Association of Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) as well as the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) may also grant approval.

The ACADC certification is reserved for professionals who hold qualifying master's degrees. The degree will need to be in a behavioral science field; moreover, it will need to include a clinical component.

In addition to a master's, a prospective ACADC will need to document 180 hours of education related to IC&RC-identified domains.

Experience Requirements

CADC work experience requirements range from 6,000 hours (with no behavioral science degree) to 2,000 hours (with a behavioral science degree at the graduate level).

The CADC credential is also dependent on having 300 hours of supervision. The Idaho Board notes that supervision is like a practicum but does not have to be completed as a formal program. The supervisor must meet requirements set by the board. If the supervisor’s certification is at the CADC level, he or she must have three years of experience.

An ACADC needs only 2,000 hours of supervised experience ( The supervision/ practicum requirement is 300 hours at this level as well.

Beginning Employment as a Qualified Substance Use Disorders Professional Trainee

A person who will be providing services at an approved behavioral health program can expect to meet some requirements before beginning work. According to state regulation, trainee status can be granted on the basis of any of the following: certification as an Idaho Student in Addiction Studies (ISAS), Northwest Indian Alcohol/Drug Specialist Counselor I status, or enrollment in a qualifying program.

ISAS certification can be granted on the basis of 22 academic credits and 300 hours of practicum. There are specific coursework requirements (

The (IBADCC) Examination and Application Process

Application forms are found in candidate handbooks. These can be downloaded from the certification section of the website (; the applicant will select the desired certification.

Official transcripts are required for documentation of academic coursework.

Candidates are eligible to test only after their applications have been approved. IBADCC has provided a list of locations (

A prospective CADC or ACADC pays an $80 application fee and $235 examination fee.

Certification is renewed on a two-year basis.

Other Accepted Addiction Counseling Certifications

The NBCC Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) certification is listed as a qualifying credential. However, the NBCC MAC examination is not currently available to new applicants.

Some substance abuse workers may also be qualified on the basis of certification through the Northwest Indian Alcohol/Drug Certification Board.

Additional Information

Information about substance abuse counseling certification is available from the Idaho Board of Alcohol/ Drug Counselor Certification ( IBADCC can be reached by telephone at (208) 468-8802 or by email at ‘ibadcc at’.

Information about requirements for substance abuse programs and staff members is available from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare ( Prospective counselors should be aware that there are periodic changes. In 2016, the Idaho Division of Behavioral Health went from having an approval process for substance abuse facilities to having an approval process for behavioral health programs that include substance use treatment. Although this change is at the institutional level, there were some changes affecting staff.

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