Addiction counselor associations are organizations that provide substance abuse professionals and aspiring professionals an opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences in a forum that supports mutual enrichment and advancement in the field. These collective groups seek to further the success of the substance abuse profession and those working within it, as well as positively influence its impact on society.

Additionally, these associations are responsible for overseeing those who practice as professional addiction counselors. They are often involved in developing and managing state substance abuse counseling education and licensure requirements and are also instrumental in establishing ethics standards intended to protect patients from malpractice.

It’s important to keep in mind that membership into addiction counselor associations is not free and, in many cases, certain requirements must first be met. Individual membership fees generally range from $85 to $250 and there is often a comparable yearly cost for renewal.

Benefits of Membership

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Don’t let the cost of membership deter you, however. There are several great benefits to joining addiction counselor associations. While these vary from association to association, the following are several of the most common reasons people choose to join organizations for substance abuse professionals:

  • Networking opportunities with other professionals in the addiction counseling field
  • Ability to learn new and helpful skills, as well as to continue growing professionally through accredited education
  • Access to members-only courses and professional resources
  • Free or reduced cost of conferences, policy events, and continuing education credits
  • Participation in community outreach efforts
  • Discounts on liability and malpractice insurance
  • Opportunity to view exclusive job listings provided by partnering companies
  • Hiring advantage of being a member of a recognizable association
  • Publishing opportunities for addiction journals and newsletters
  • Prospect of providing valuable insight to the public regarding policies that impact addiction counselors and patients alike

Professional Organizations to Join

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Most states have their own addiction counseling associations. In some cases, these organizations are simply state branches of renowned national or international associations. If you’re interested in or required to join your state’s association for substance abuse counselors, a quick search online should get you moving in the right direction.

In addition to state addiction counseling associations, there are a number of professional organizations to choose from.

Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC)

As an organization that represents the interests of over 100,000 addiction professionals, NAADAC is the largest association for substance abuse counselors. It provides membership benefits, resources, and training opportunities to addiction counselors, educators, and healthcare professionals throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad. NAADAC also provides credentials through the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NCC AP), an independently managed branch of the organization. Since 1991, over 21,000 credentials related to addiction counseling have been issued.

NAADAC currently has over 10,000 members divided between seven membership levels:

  • Professional
  • Associate
  • Peer Recovery Support Specialist
  • Student
  • Military
  • International
  • Retired

Membership dues vary depending on your situation. There are 47 states with affiliate associations with NAADAC; if you live in one of these states, you will be required to pay both the national and state affiliate fees. Those practicing in states without active affiliates are only responsible for national dues. Membership fees ranges from $85 to $160, but are lower for associates, peer recovery support specialists, students, and military personnel.

Benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Over 145 hours of free continuing education hours, as well as reduced rates for additional coursework
  • Free subscription to Advances in Addiction & Recovery, NAADAC’s official magazine
  • Reduced rates for workshops, conferences, and public policy events sponsored by NAADAC
  • Discounts on numerous educational resources
  • Access to NAADAC’s career center
  • Reduced rates on professional liability and premises liability insurance

International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors (IAAOC)

IAAOC members include substance abuse counselors, corrections counselors, graduate students, and educators dedicated to assisting individuals struggling with addiction and/or exhibiting criminal behaviors. The organization offers various resources and leadership opportunities.

There are five types of membership:

  • Professional
  • Regular
  • New Professional
  • Student
  • Retired

The benefits of becoming a member include:

  • Improved professional standing
  • Quarterly issues of the IAAOC Newsletter
  • Reports and research published by The Journal of Addictions and Offender Counseling
  • Access to back issues of the IAAOC Newsletter, podcasts, conference information, and award opportunities

For membership information, you can contact the IAAOC Membership Chair using the email address provided on the organization’s website.

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP)

This organization is intended for health professionals interested in the science of addiction psychiatry research and clinical treatment. AAAP’s goal is to provide resources that help professionals prevent, identify, and treat patients with substance abuse disorders.

There are two main membership options:

  • Regular / Related Health Professional
  • International

One year and three year memberships are available. The one year memberships range from $200 for international members to $250 for regular members, while the three year memberships range from $575 for international members to $705 for regular members. There are, however, discounts for medical students, residents, fellows, early career candidates, and retired individuals. Medical students are eligible for free membership, while the other designations may pay up to $158 in yearly dues.

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)

ASAM has over 5,000 professional members in the field of addiction medicine. The organization continually works to provide access to, and improve upon, addiction treatment, education, research, and prevention, as well as promote the role physicians play in the substance abuse recovery process.

There are seven membership types:

  • Regular
  • Associate Member
  • Early Career Physicians
  • Retired
  • International
  • Residents & Fellows
  • Students

Membership dues vary depending on the membership type, but range from $40 for residents and fellows to $500 for regular members. ASAM does provide a complimentary membership to students who are currently enrolled and in good standing with an accredited allopathic or osteopathic medical school. Proof of enrollment is required.

Benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Networking opportunities during ASAM State Chapter events, courses, and meetings
  • Copy of the Journal of Addiction Medicine, published six times a year
  • Access to the ASAM career center
  • Exclusive membership rates for CME educational courses

Division 50: Society of Addiction Psychology

Division 50: Society of Addiction Psychology is actually an interest group provided to members of the American Psychological Association (APA). This group promotes research and training related to addictive behaviors, such as drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and sex. APA offers 54 divisions that members and non-members can join.

Benefits include:

  • Psychology of Addictive Behaviors journal subscription
  • The Addictions Newsletter

Membership applications are available on the APA website. For information about dues, you can contact the APA Division Services via mail or by calling (202) 336-6013.

National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP)

NAATP is a nonprofit society of addiction counseling professionals that provides member support by offering clinical and operational resources and law and policy advocacy. This organization is geared more toward service providers running their own practices, but individuals are eligible for membership as well. Benefits include networking opportunities, information sharing, visibility, training, industry news, salary surveys, job listings, vendor discounts, and expert consultations.

There are two membership categories: Provider Members and Supporter Members. Dues for Provider Members are based on gross annual revenue and range from $1,000 to $20,500 yearly. Supporter Members pay either $1,000 or $2,500 annually.

Organizations for Students

In addition to providing support, education, and benefits to professional addiction counselors, substance abuse associations often offer membership opportunities to students. These membership opportunities vary, but are generally less expensive. Some of the most notable associations for students include:

  • NAADAC Student Membership
  • IAAOC Graduate Student Membership
  • AAAP Free Medical Student Membership
  • ASAM Student Membership
  • APA Student Affiliate Membership

Students should keep in mind that proof of student status will be required and that certain restrictions may apply.

Organizations for Licensure

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The requirements to practice as a licensed substance abuse professional vary from state to state. Some states recognize education and certifications that have been provided by credible associations or boards, such as NAADAC and the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium / Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (IC&RC).

As previously mentioned, the NCC AP, under the umbrella of NAADAC, independently manages the majority of certification and endorsement offerings for addiction counselors at the national and international level. NCC AP certifications include:

  • National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC I)
  • National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC II)
  • Master Addiction Counselor (MAC)
  • Nicotine Dependence Specialist (NDS)
  • National Certified Adolescent Addictions Counselor (NCAAC)
  • National Peer Recovery Support Specialist (NCPRSS)

Additionally, NCC AP offers the following professional endorsements:

  • National Endorsed Student Assistance Professional (NESAP)
  • National Clinical Supervision Endorsement (NCSE)
  • National Endorsed Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (NECODP)

While many licensing boards recognize the above-mentioned certifications, it’s important to realize that they are national optional credentials. This means that they do not negate your responsibility to complete the official credentialing process within the state you plan to practice. In fact, many state and NCC AP requirements overlap.

Additionally, many state associations that are affiliated with NAADAC and IC&RC provide certification opportunities. It’s absolutely imperative that you thoroughly research the requirements specific to your state before seeking professional credentials as an addiction counselor.