Substance Abuse Counselor Certification and Licensure in Rhode Island

Rhode Island substance abuse counselors typically hold two credentials. They are certified by the Rhode Island Certification Board and also licensed by the Board of Licensing for Chemical Dependency Professionals; the latter is a governmental entity that operates under the banner of Rhode Island Department of Health.

Although the Rhode Island Certification Board is a third party organization, it is referenced in state regulation. RICB certification is a prerequisite requirement for licensure.

Certification and licensure both take time as a worker must accrue supervised experience. A worker can begin the credentialing process at the Provisional Alcohol and Drug Counselor (PADC) level. This is an entry-level third party credential.

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Becoming a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor

A person must become a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) in order to be eligible for state licensing. (The credential was formerly known as Advanced Chemical Dependency Professional, or ACDP and may be referenced as such in some documents.)

The educational foundation is a high school diploma or GED. The individual will also need 270 hours of education that is relevant to alcohol and drug counselor domains; of these, at least 120 must be alcohol and drug specific. Education is to be 'structured' but may take various forms, including institutes, in-service, and approved distance education. A three semester hour college course is credited as 45 hours.

The candidate will need six hours each of qualifying coursework in confidentiality, ethics, communicable disease, and use of medication in treatment; the medication-assisted treatment course will include attitudes toward using medication in recovery.

The trainee will have 300 hours of supervision with no fewer than 20 in each of four identified domains. Counseling and education are treated as one domain. Other domains include the following:

  • Screening/ assessment/ engagement
  • Treatment planning/ referral/ collaboration
  • Ethical and professional responsibilities

The prospective CADC will need to accrue as many as 6,000 work experience hours before becoming eligible for certification. A trainee who holds an academic degree in a behavioral science discipline will become eligible sooner. Substitution credit ranges from 1,000 hours with an associate degree to 4,000 hours with a master's degree. Work experience does not have to be paid to be credited, provided that it meets stated requirements.

The candidate must pass the Examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors. This is offered by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC).

Becoming a Licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor

Licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LAADC) is the higher license. The credential was formerly known as Advanced Chemical Dependency Professional II (ACDP II).

The CAADC requires a master's degree and 180 hours of education that relates to alcohol and drug counselor domains. A CAADC, like a CADC, is required to have coursework in confidentiality, ethics, communicable disease, and medication-assisted treatment. The experience requirement is 2,000 hours; the supervision requirement, 300 hours.

The CAADC candidate will take the IC&RC Examination for Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselors.

The Certification Application Process

Candidate handbooks can be downloaded from the website of the Rhode Island Certification Board ( A certification applicant will submit supervision form and employment documentation. Academic degrees are documented through official transcripts.

The certification fee at the CADC or CAADC level is $350.

Credentialing at the provisional level carries a $200 fee.

Approved candidates will receive information about examination scheduling.

The License Application Process

Once an individual has achieved the requisite certification, there are relatively few steps to take to achieve licensure. Applicants may download needed documents from the Department of Health. They will need to answer professional disciplinary questions -- for example, whether they have ever been sanctioned by the IC&RC or the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).

The Board will require documentation of citizenship or lawful alien status. The applicant is to attach a small photograph to his or her her application. The form requires notarization. The application is to be accompanied by a $75 fee.

The Board for Chemical Dependency professionals requires certification verification directly from the RICB.

The license review process can take eight or more weeks. Once the credential has been issued, the professional will be a Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional

Recertification and License Renewal

CADCs recertify every two years. They are expected to complete 40 hours of continuing education.

Licenses must also be renewed every two years.

Additional Information

Information about licensing of chemical dependency professionals is available from the Rhode Island Department of Health (

Information about prerequisite certification as a CADC or CAADC is available from the Rhode Island Certification Board ( The RICB can be reached by telephone at (401) 349-3822 or by email at ‘info at’.

Information about licensing of behavioral health facilities is available from the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (

The Rhode Island Association for Addiction Professionals is an additional professional resource ( . It is the state NAADAC chapter.

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