What does an Addiction Counselor in Rhode Island do? What is Their Job Role?

Substance abuse counselors are mental health professionals that work correctly with people dealing with substance abuse chemical dependencies. Alcohol and drug counselors work differs by client and setting, but they may lead support groups and one-on-one counseling sessions, as well as help patients develop a clear path toward recovery.

The state of Rhode Island offers prospective substance abuse counselors several different options for getting started on this career path, a relatively low barrier to entry. Still, those who wish to pursue a stable career may fare best with an advanced degree.

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Rhode Island substance abuse counselors may find work in nonprofit organizations, as well as for-profit rehab clinics, and government-run organizations that provide counseling services.

Generally, substance abuse counselors perform evaluations for patients and develop a personalized plan for recovery; over the course of counseling, this plan may change depending on the patient's needs and progress.

While it’s not a prerequisite, a successful Rhode Island substance abuse counselor should have some connections in the social services community. For example, this could be relationships with medical providers or job training programs that benefit recovering patients.

There are substance abuse counseling certifications for those at all educational levels. A candidate with a GED or an associate's degree will need to obtain more logged working credentials on their way to mental health certification than someone with a master's degree.

But, Rhode Island is unique in that one can advance within this field without going back to school. Instead, you can opt to move up by gaining hands-on experience. Still, if you wish to obtain the advanced certification, you will need that advanced degree to go with it.

Rhode Island Licensing & Certifications for Associates & Independent Counselors


Like other states, aspiring Rhode Island a chemical dependency professional will have a few different paths they can take toward earning mental health certification. The Rhode Island Board website emphasizes that there are several ways of getting to the final goal of accreditation—depending on your education level when you begin the training process.

The three "main options" are differentiated by education level, and are as follows:

  • Provisional Alcohol and Drug Counselor (PADC)
  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)
  • Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)

On top of those designations, addiction counseling professionals are also eligible to become certified in other related specialties.

  • Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (CCDP)
  • Certificate of Competency in Problem Gambling
  • Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS) abuse counselor in Rhode Island, alcohol and drug counselors must complete a series of steps.

Additionally, prospective Rhode Island substance abuse counselors may gain lesser certifications as Certified Peer Recovery Specialists or Certified Community Health Workers. These options may be worth exploring if you’re in recovery yourself, are looking for a way to give back to the community, or as an means of finding out if counseling is right for you.

Education Requirements

Here is a breakdown of the education requirements you’ll need to obtain in order to become a practicing chemical dependency professional counselor in the state of Rhode Island.

Provisional Alcohol and Drug Counselor (PADC)

This certification is an entry-level credential. While you don't need to have a college degree, you must have a GED or high school diploma, plus 140 hours of drug and alcohol education, relevant to alcohol and drug counseling. These hours may come from seminars and workshops, as well as in-services.

Still, it may be worthwhile to look toward a community college or university instead of cobbling together your hours through seminars. For example, enrolling in a three-credit semester class can replace 45 of those required credit hours.

Additionally, education must include 12 hours of confidentiality training, as well as six hours in each of the following subjects: chemical dependency, communicable diseases, ethics, medication, and medication attitudes. Of those 12 hours of confidentiality training, eight must address 42 CRF Part 2.

Finally, one is only granted their PDCP credential after completing one year or 2000 hours of professional experience. This can be either paid or volunteer experience. Finally, the PADC candidate will need to obtain 150 hours of supervised training. Credentials are good for two years and must be kept up to maintain licensure. Candidates are not required to take an exam.

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)

At this level, the candidate must have a minimum of 300 hours of counseling training, and half of those hours must be specific to the subject of drug and alcohol abuse.

Like the entry-level credential, it is possible to achieve this designation without a degree, though your prospects will look a bit better if you pursue some level of higher education such as your associate’s degree or a bachelor’s.

Without a degree, alcohol and drug counselors must obtain 6,000 hours (or three years) of experience. Interestingly, this is where Rhode Island differs from other states--providing alcohol and drug counselors a means of "leveling up" by earning hours on the job.

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Still, it pays to go to school. If you have an associate's degree in a relevant field, that can knock off 1,000 hours of experience. A bachelor's degree will account for 2,000 hours, while a master's degree accounts for 4,000.

Additional hours may be earned through practicum, internships, and board-approved volunteer work.

Finally, at the master’s level, you can advance to the Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC) designation. Here, because of the additional degree, hours are reduced. You’ll need 180 hours of education credits in alcohol and drug counseling, plus one year of work experience and 100 supervised hours.

CACREP Accredited Online Certification


Two types of accreditation are recognized in the United States; institutional and specialized. Institutional accreditation takes the entire institution into account while the specialized focus on chemical dependency professional preparation programs. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a specialized accreditation that focuses on master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling at colleges and universities worldwide. Only already-accredited institutions are eligible for CACREP review. The review for accreditation will center on programs offering graduate degrees in substance abuse counseling.

Choosing a CACREP-accredited mental health program ensures that the program meets the highest of quality standards. Many counseling specialties are accredited bythe CACREP, including addiction counseling. Accredited addiction counseling programs prepare individuals to work with those affected by addictive behavior and their families. Addictive behaviors include alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, sex, and anything else that negatively affects your personal or work life by creating addiction behaviors.

CACREP-accredited programs will focus on treatment models and the phases of addiction including prevention, recovery, and relapse prevention. These 60-semester hour programs will include the application of interventions. When students choose a CACREP-accredited program they can be confident that:

  • the program meets or exceeds national standards
  • the program will focus on professional counseling rather than psychology oreducation
  • the program has an excellent reputation
  • CACREP graduates statistically receive higher scores on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).
  • the requirements for licensure will be met.

Clinical Supervision Explained

Any addiction chemical dependency professional in Rhode Island must undergo supervised clinical practice as part of their journey through licensure. Again, the required amount of hours is dependent on the type of certification alcohol and drug counselors are applying for, as well the level of formal education.

Internships and volunteer work might count toward the required hours, but they must meet the state’s criteria.

Department of Health
Board of Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists

The Rhode Island Board of Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists advises the Department and Director of Health in matters concerning the mental health profession. The Board reviews and approves, or rejects, applications for licensure and formulates regulations pertaining to the mental health professionals. Alcohol and drug counselors are also responsible for ensuring the highest quality of substance abuse care for the citizens of Rhode Island. Their mission includes qualifying individuals for professional licensure and regulating practicing professionals’ activities and continuing education requirements.


3 Capitol Hill, Room 104
Providence, RI 02908


(401) 222-7883

Website Address



  • Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC)

Counselor Testing & Examination Process


The testing process in Rhode Island takes place in two distinct parts. Once you’ve determined which level of certification you qualify for, you’ll need to submit your supervised hours form to the Rhode Island certification board, along with your transcript, and a few other components. The RI Certification Board provides guides for every level in pdf form, including a checklist of everything you’ll need to submit to progress with your certification.

You’ll pay the fee to earn your CADC or CAADC credential, and once approved; you’ll receive information about taking the licensing exam.

Candidates may download the documents they need from the Department of Health website. These forms serve as a series of questions, aimed at reviewing the candidate's competency. Candidates will answer questions like have they ever been licensed by the IC&RC or the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).

Additionally, the Rhode Island board will need documentation of US citizenship or legal resident status, as well as a photo, a $75 fee, and a notarized signature.

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

The license review process will require some waiting. According to the Board for Chemical Dependency professionals, the review process may take eight or more weeks. Once the application had been approved, the candidate will now be a Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional.

Renewal and Continuing Education


As we've mentioned above, certifications are only valid for every two years and must be renewed. If you’ve obtained a provisional certificate, you must upgrade your credential to CADC or CAADC. Otherwise, you must reapply for the temporary credential.

All substance abuse counselors must participate in 40 hours of documented continuing education every two years. Of those 40 hours, three must cover professional ethics as they pertain to drug and alcohol counseling.

In Rhode Island, there is no limit on the number of hours that may be completed through distance learning, so renewing your credential may not be all that time consuming for working professionals.

Potential Counselor Career Path Options

  • Addiction Counselor
  • Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselor
  • Behavioral Health Specialist
  • Certified Addiction Drug and Alcohol Counselor
  • Chemical Dependency Counselor
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • School Counselor
  • Substance Abuse Counselor

Associations & Organizations

You may have seen some of these organizations mentioned in the above section. Here is a little more about the organizations responsible for the licensure and professional development of Rhode Island’s substance abuse counselors.

  • Rhode Island Department of Health: The department of health is responsible for licensing a chemical dependency professional. More information is available through the Rhode Island Department of Health website.
  • Rhode Island Certification Board: This organization is your central information hub if you're looking to pursue CADC or CAADC certification. The board is responsible for approving supervision hours, evaluating transcripts, and helping candidates coordinate their exams.
  • The Rhode Island Association for Addiction Professionals: Another chemical dependency professional resource, this is the NAADAC chapter for Rhode Island. The NAADAC is a professional association, so you’ll need to pay an annual membership fee. The organization provides networking opportunities, ongoing training, and more, so membership may be worthwhile.
  • IC&RC: The International Credentialing Organization. This resource is a global association that provides training and credentialing in substance abuse counseling, treatment, clinical supervising, and more. According to the official website, exams and standards are updated every five or so years. in keeping with industry updates. While you’ll need to pass the IC&RC test, you can do so directly with them, or arrange the process through the ABCAC.


Rhode Island substance abuse professionals stand to make a real difference in the community, offering much-needed compassion to an often tricky and stigmatized specification.

Salaries range from $30-50k annually, depending on the level of education achieved.

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