Human Services Guide
       
 

Substance Abuse Counseling Certification in California

California has four main levels of certification as well as two levels that are trainee level and not required for actual certification and/or licensure and will not be covered in this article. The four levels are known as: the Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor Associate (CADCA), Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor I (CADC-I), Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor II (CADC-II) and the Licensed Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor (LAADC). The first three levels require the completion of education as well as a practicum and supervised experience. The LAADC level requires a Master’s degree in a Behavioral Science if from another state, or a combination of a degree as well as supervised experience. The LAADC is a non-governmental license that provides some benefits but is not required to practice in California.

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You will need to complete the following steps to become certified in California:

  1. Earn an Associate’s, Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a Behavioral Science field with Counseling or Addiction Counseling greatly preferred. Other degrees that are acceptable for the lower level of certification are: Social Work, Sociology, Human Services or Psychology.
  2. Complete a practicum.
  3. Earn sufficient supervised work experience.
  4. Pass a written examination.
  5. Apply for certification with the California Commission for Behavioral Health Certification.

CA Substance Abuse Counselor Educational Requirements

You will need the following education in California:

  • 315 hours of approved education from a CAADAC approved institution of higher learning.

Practicum

You will need to complete a practicum for all levels of licensure.

  • You will need a 255 hour practicum that is approved by the CAADAC.

Supervised Experience

  • Supervised experience is where the different levels of certification/licensure have differing requirements.
  • Before accruing experience you will need to pass a criminal background check.
  • At the CADCA level you will not need any supervised experience as this is the intro level.
  • At the CADC-I level you will need 4,000 of supervised work experience providing Alcohol and Drug counseling to clients under supervision.
  • At the CADC-II level you will need 6,000 hours of supervised work experience providing Alcohol and Drug counseling to clients under supervision
  • At the LAADC level you will need 10,000 hours if you do not have a degree.
  • For the LAADC if you have an AA degree this is reduced to 6,000 hours.
  • If you have your Bachelor’s degree it is reduced to 4,000 hours.
  • If you are applying for reciprocal status and have a Master’s degree you will not be required to have any supervised experience.

Written Examination

California has an examination requirement for all levels of certification.

  • Pass the ICRC written examination.

Apply for Your Certification

You are now eligible to apply with the Commission for certification.

  • For the CADCA, CADC-I and CADC II levels you will find the application here.
  • For the LAADC Non-Reciprocal Application click here.