Substance Abuse Counselor Certification in Michigan

A professional can be qualified to work at a Michigan-licensed substance abuse facility based on certification by the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals, a third party organization that is a member of the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC).

One popular credential requires a master's degree in a related clinical field. The other does not require a degree -- just the equivalent of about 18 semester hours of coursework. The credentials require varying amounts of experience. The Certification Board is also an important resource at the entry-level, though, as it can register substance abuse workers who are in the process of meeting their certification requirements.

A person with a master's degree in addiction counseling (or other branch of counseling) can also take steps toward becoming a professional counselor. A mental health license can open up additional career opportunities.

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Beginning Substance Abuse Employment under a Development Plan

A worker who has not yet met certification requirements may work under a development plan registered with the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals. This is not a mandatory prerequisite for certification. However, the Certification Board notes that it may be required by the employer and/ or payer. The Certification Board notes that a development plan is not a credential; it is not recommended except when necessary for employment.

Requirements for career-related education are minimal at this stage. The substance abuse trainee will complete three hours of training in professional ethics, two hours of training in professional boundaries, and one hour of training in confidentiality either before applying for the development plan or shortly afterward. A development plan is issued for a particular workplace and must be updated if employment changes.

The Certification Board further notes that many Michigan employers require an entry level examination: the Michigan Addiction Fundamentals Examination, or MAFE. The exam was developed by the Florida Certification Board and the Southern Coast Addiction Technology Transfer Center. It is available at the Lansing Office. It is necessary to pre-register. There is an $80 fee. The examination may be credited toward the substance abuse education hours required for certification. Information is available from the Michigan Certification Board (

Achieving Certification through the Michigan Certification Board of Addiction Professionals

The Michigan Certification Board offers a number of certifications. Two are designed for alcohol and drug counseling.

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) is the lower of the two. The minimum educational level is high school diploma or equivalency. Degrees in human services or behavioral science can shorten the experience period.

The candidate will, in all cases, need at least 270 hours of related education. Education is described as formal classroom experience but may or may not be pursued as academic coursework through an accredited college. At least 180 of the 270 hours must be specific to the substance abuse role; the Certification Board notes that a course in general psychology or social work would generally not qualify. The Certification Board has information about Michigan educational programs. Addiction counseling will not necessarily be the major; it may be a minor or specialization.

The prospective CADC will need at least 300 hours of supervised practical training. He or she will need to accrue 2,000 to 6,000 hours of supervised experience. The exact amount depends on whether the person has a qualifying degree and, if so, what level it is at. A person with a clinically focused degree at the baccalaureate level can expect to complete 4,000 hours.

The candidate will need to pass the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Drug Counselor (IC&RC/ADC) examination at some point before certification.

The Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC) credential is the higher alcohol and drug counseling certification, designed for individuals who hold clinical master's degrees in any of the following fields: counseling, psychology, clinical social work, marriage and family therapy. The trainee will need 180 hours of education that are specific to substance abuse. He or she will take the IC&RC advanced (AADC) examination. The experience requirement is 2,000 hours.

Certification Application and Maintenance

Application forms and instructions can be downloaded from the website of the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals (; the applicant should first click on the credential sought. Application packets include forms for documenting training and experience. Applicants must sign a code of ethics.

Continuing education is a renewal requirement. Alcohol and drug counselors complete 40 hours every two years.

Achieving Professional Counseling Licensure

The foundation for professional counseling licensure in Michigan is a master's program in counseling that includes at least 48 credit hours. It may be in any of multiple counseling disciplines; the counselor will need coursework in a range of topics, including counseling theories and counseling techniques. Practicum and internship requirements must meet requirements outlined in state code. (This experience may simultaneously meet two sets of requirements. AADCs are required to have completed an internship or practicum as part of their educational programs, though it is not mandatory that the discipline be professional counseling.)

It will take slightly longer to meet supervised practice requirements for the professional counseling license than it does for the alcohol and drug counseling certification (unless the individual has a significant amount of education beyond the master's level). The prospective professional counselor will need to take an additional examination.

A prospective graduate student can expect a program accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) to meet educational requirements. CACREP accredits several types of master's programs, including those that offer specialization in addiction counseling.

Additional Information

Information about Michigan alcohol and drug counseling certification is available from the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals ( The Certification Board can be reached by telephone at (517) 347-0891.

Information about professional counseling licensure is available from the Michigan Board of Counseling (,4601,7-154-72600_72603_27529_27536---,00.html).

The Michigan Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors is the state chapter of a well-known professional association (

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