If you are considering a career in addiction treatment, we can help you get started. There are many different certifications and licensures available in the addictions profession, not to mention Silhouette Man Jumping.all of the add-on credentials that are available. There are even some credentials that don’t require a lot of formal education. The credentials and the requirements may vary significantly from state to state. Go to State Boards to find out more about your particular state. This is an evolving site, so we welcome any information or input you may have.

How to Become an Addictions Counselor

Every state has different credentials and different requirements to acquire these credentials. Most states however use one of two organizations and some use both. These two organizations are International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium(IC&RC) and NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals. My recommendation is to first check out the board(s) for your state. If your state has more than one board, you may want to explore the job market and see what certifications are specified in job listings, or contact local agencies to see who they hire. Often the state itself is the largest employer of addiction professionals, so it would be a good idea to see who they employ. From my experience, I would likely start with an organization associated with IC&RC. They are located in just about every state and when I moved to a different state the reciprocity process was relatively simple and painless. Both IC&RC and NAADAC list their minimum standards for certification, but both require you to go through your state agency.


Reasons You Should Become a Substance Abuse Counselor  

  1. It’s Tough. Wait, I thought this was reasons that I should become a substance abuse counselor. We spend so much of our time seeking out the path of least resistance and forget the satisfaction that we get from taking on the tough challenges. Being an addictions counselor isn’t the easiest job in the world, but it can certainly be rewarding when you see someone who felt helpless and hopeless make some significant progress and really be excited about life.
  2. Job Security. This is one job where your goal is to work yourself out of a job, but that isn’t likely to happen. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor the number of substance abuse and behavioral counselor jobs will grow by 27% between 2010 and 2020. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that we have a pretty significant drug problem in the United States. Just watch the news tonight. Besides even if we were to get rid of all the drugs in our country, there are still plenty of other addictions out there.
  3. It’s not really about the drugs. Sure, drugs are the love of their life and it takes their money, family, health, freedom etc., but people use drugs for a reason. These reasons are often related to mental health issues and an inability to cope with the stresses of life. This is where the counseling comes in. I have often heard Licensed Professional Counselors and social workers say that they don’t want to work with drug addicts, but I guarantee that whether you work in mental health counseling, marriage and family counseling, school counseling or any other counseling, that you will have clients with substance abuse issues.
  4. Your own personal growth. I have found that when I am working with clients and helping them make some positive changes in their life, that it causes me to examine some of those areas of my life. You feel like a hypocrite when you are stressing the importance of exercise and diet when you are having a donut and a soft drink for breakfast every morning. In group settings in particular, when you are addressing specific topics, you can find yourself growing along with your group members.
  5. Career growth opportunities. Compared to many other professions, addictions counseling is relatively new. States having a specific substance abuse counselor board and addiction credentials is still new and evolving. These boards are becoming more organized, more involved with legislation and more respected. In the past 15 years, I have seen them add many new credentials as well as many add on credentials. There are credentials for different levels of addiction counselors, counselor supervisors, counselors specializing in gambling, co-occurring disorders and peer counselors. These are just the ones that I can think of off the top of my head. Check your state board to see what credentials are available in your state.




  1. clarence Rufg January 20, 2014 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    I used heroin and cocaine from 1969 to 1997 and i realized how much of my life i’ve lost.now,i want to become a substance abuse counselor to help those with substance abuse problems to rid themselves of the problem.I’ve been clean for seventeen years and a lot of positive advice to give.

  2. clarence Ruff January 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Above name in my one comment is last name,Ruff not Rufg.

  3. Donna Lane May 19, 2014 at 12:00 am - Reply

    I really like your “reason to become a S/A Counselor”. Great enthusiasm and well said on many fronts. I started working in Substance Abuse services in the 80′s and was trained while working at a Residential Theraputic Community for Adolescent boys, we used Reality therapy, Motivational Interviewing and many other ways to help the young men develop skills to live clean and sober., including taking them to AA and NA in the community. This was pre DBT-S and a whole lot more intensive and less fluff.
    This program was in MA and the work here is very different than when I moved out west to AZ. AZ did not take kindly to accepting any work from another stet, would not consider it despite work at Harvard, training with Harvard and work at a top notch facility and with highly recognized Addictions and Psychiatry in the world, they said NO!! Times are slowly changing and the AZ Counsel and all of the great CD therapists and hard work has been moving things forward to change it so that folks who were educated, trained and seasoned professionals can be licensed there.

  4. Angie Johnson June 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Hi my name is… Angie I’m 47 yrs. old. I have been a meth user for 27 years. I was raised with both parents being drug addicts as well. My mother was 14 yrs. old when I was born. She resented me for ruining her life. My father started sexually abusing me at the age of 11. My parents thought it was funny to get my brother & I high on weed at the age of 3. Our home was a party drug house 24/7. Not only was I an addict of using this drug. I then got addicted to manufacturing meth. my drug abuse got so bad that I then started taking pills smoking dro & even downing cough syrup. I was very comfortable as an addict. Until I was abducted by a stranger that violently raped me. I knew at that point my life had changed. I tried to make this rapist kill me. I tried to kill myself. There is no other way that I’m alive medically. only the grace of god that I’m alive. After the rape all my many stuffed bad memories came out all at one time. I realized at that point I needed help to stop my addiction & seriously counseling. I checked myself into Alpha Home treatment center. I now live in a structured sober living home. I now want to help other women with addiction & trauma. I want to be a spoke person on rape. I have a little over a year of sobriety. I now smile & enjoy life. I lived & breathed my addiction., I now want to live & breathe my sobriety.

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