Whether you’ve struggled with substance abuse issues yourself or have seen friends and family deal with such problems themselves, you know that the work of substance abuse counselors is never easy. Addiction is an incredibly difficult problem to treat, and as such, substance abuse counselors are always in demand.
If you’re considering this career path in the state of Oregon, there are many requirements on the way to becoming a certified addiction counselor, whether you opt for stopping your formal education at the associate’s level or go past a master’s degree.
Between the supervised hours, the drug and alcohol classes, and even maintaining sobriety, there’s a lot to learn before you can get to work. Here is a brief overview of what it takes to become an official addiction counselor in Oregon.
Overview of a Substance Abuse Counselor
At all levels, addiction counselors offer therapy to people struggling with drugs or alcohol dependence or addition. While there are multiple levels of certification, counselors can expect to work in a hands-on capacity with patients, guiding them through the recovery process.
Potential employers may include nonprofit and for-profit healthcare providers, government entities and nonprofit organizations that provide counseling services.
The right person for this job is connected to the community and has developed relationships with organizations offering further support to clients. Ideally, they'll have an in-depth understanding of the issues and triggers affecting clients.
This position will likely require counselors to develop personalized recovery plans for clients, adjusting according to patients' needs and progress.
Patient activities will be monitored closely and documented by confidentiality laws. Still, you may end up working with a patient's medical professional with the patient's permission.
An independent substance abuse counselor will need to earn their Master's degree and will have previous, on-the-job experience before receiving their certification.
Types of Licensure in Oregon
To earn this designation, no college diploma is required. You will need a GED or a high school diploma, and an associate's degree may make the process easier for prospective candidates.
- 1,000 hours (or one year) of supervised practice in drug and alcohol counseling.
- 150 hours of documented education in ICRC/AODA. These courses must fall under the following disciplines: general counseling, group counseling, alcohol and drug abuse pharmacology, counseling ethics, and HIV/AIDS risk assessment and reduction.
- A passing score on the NCAC I Examination and a clean criminal record.
CADC- II Requirements
With the CADC-II, your starting point will be from a place of higher education. You must have a bachelor's degree in counseling or another behavioral science area from an accredited college or university. Additional requirements include:
- Pass a criminal background check.
- 4,000 hours (or 2 years) of supervised practice in drug and alcohol counseling.
- You'll also need 300 hours of education with coursework completed in the following areas: individual and group counseling, alcohol and drug abuse pharmacology, dual diagnoses, counseling in diverse populations, ethics and HIV/AIDS risk assessment.
- You must also pass both a criminal background check and the NCAC II exam.
CADC- III Requirements
At this level, you'll need a master's degree from an accredited college or university, plus the following requirements:
- Three years or 6,000 hours of supervised clinical practice.
- 300 hours of education in the areas outlined in the CADC II licensure list.
- You must pass the MAC Examination and a background check.
Aside from the requirements outlined above, counseling candidates at all levels will need to complete an internship, as well as an extended period of monitored clinical practice before earning their credential.
Education Required for Practice in the State of Oregon
While all states call each level of licensure something just a little bit different, there are still three different tiers—ranging from the associate’s degree level to master’s and beyond. Like most professions, earning an advanced degree can increase your earning potential—a CADC 1 is likely to earn an hourly wage, while a CADC III stands to earn a healthy salary and have the ability to work in a broader range of facilities.
Additionally, the graduate level counselor is afforded more independence in their practice. The CADC III does not require supervision after they complete their training and obtain their credential. They also have the benefit of being able to strike out on their own and may employ the services of the lower two tiers.
Here’s a look at the educational requirements for each certification level:
CADC 1 Education
To get your CADC 1, you don’t necessarily need a degree at all, but attending a community college may be the most straightforward means of getting that Oregon certification.
You’ll need 1000 hours of clinical experience to earn your certificate, and going through the Associate’s program at PCC provides 650 of those 1000 hours. If you opt for a certificate program, that will cover 325 of the required hours.
According to the Addiction Counselor Certification Board of Oregon (ACCBO), the CADC 1 requires 150 hours of alcohol and drug-specific instruction.
CADC II Education
At this next level, you'll need a minimum of a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience. Equivalency may look like an AA degree, plus additional specialty courses in behavioral sciences and chemical dependency.
The candidate must also complete a minimum of 300 alcohol and drug education hours.
Those education hours must be from accredited or board-approved institutions and cover the following topics:
- Basic Counseling Skills--these must be completed in person, no distance learning allowed.
- Group Counseling Skills --Again, these skills must be obtained through in-person trainings.
- Pharmacology of Alcohol and Drugs
- HIV/AIDS Risk Assessment & Risk Reduction
- Ethics and patient privacy
- Counseling diverse groups—Counseling aimed at helping various demographics people from different cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as different age groups and severity of addiction.
- Clinical Evaluation ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine Patient Placement Criteria 2 and DSM Substance Abuse Disorders)
- Dual or multiple diagnoses
At this level, you'll need to complete 4,000 supervised hours within a counseling setting.
Accepted credentials include CADC II, CADC III, MAC, NCAC II, CDS II, CDS III, C-CATODSW, CDP or other state’s advanced addiction counselor addiction counseling certifications utilizing professional psychometric examinations.
CADC III Education
This candidate must have a master’s degree (minimum), plus 300 hours of alcohol and drug education. Again, education must be approved by the board and administered by an accredited institution.
Educational topic areas cover the same areas (group counseling, pharmacology, etc.) as outlined in the CADC II requirements above. Additionally, the CADC III candidate must complete 6000 supervised practice hours.
This candidate must already have received CADC II, MAC, NCAC II, CDS II, CATODSW, CDP, or a certification from another state before they are eligible to try for this designation.
- If applicable, a letter stating that the candidate has maintained their sobriety for a minimum of three years.
- A signed and dated ethics agreement
- Passing score on the MAC National Certification Exam
- Passing score on the Written Jurisprudence Ethics Exam
After candidates have passed the MAC written exam, the counselor will earn their CADC I certification, along with how to proceed. The next step is signing up for the written Jurisprudence Ethics Exam. After completing the Exam, the counselor then obtains their CADC II certification.
Still, it's not as simple as taking both tests. To complete the Jurisprudence exam and get the CDAC II, you'll also need to complete the requirements outlined above.
Licensure works a bit differently with applicants who have already completed a master's degree or higher.
In that case, candidates have the option of accessing certification directly from the National Certified Board of Counselors (NBCC) or the NAADAC.
Clinical Supervision Explained
All prospective counselors must complete a certain amount of working hours before they are eligible to earn their license.
Practicum, or work experience, is also an important part of addiction counseling training. It’s your chance to get some hands-on training and begin working in your chosen field early on.
Your practicum will be completed in an approved addiction treatment center and will cover things like group counseling, intakes, record keeping, individual counseling, and staff meetings.
Your practicum is built into your associate’s degree program, as well as your bachelor’s should you choose to pursue it. These work experience hours will contribute to your ACCBO certification requirement.
That said, not all hours of your practicum will go toward your supervised hours. The practicum covers things like admin tasks along with some aspects of therapy. Your supervised practice hours are composed of hands-on client work and counseling training.
Oregon Examination Process
You can download application instructions directly from the ACCBO website. The board provides a packet that includes an exam application, as well as a checklist for candidates to review before applying. Tests are offered on a monthly basis and fees are as follows: exam is $225, the application fee is $50, and case presentation is $125.
Applicants must submit transcripts and certificates with their application, and advises anyone sending application materials by overnight mail to sign a waiver allowing delivery without a signature to avoid delays.
Education is to be documented through official transcripts and copies of certificates. Applicants must include copies of their state IDs. Supervisors will need to sign the experience verification forms, noting their credentials after their names and including phone numbers for verification.
Additionally, those professionals who are in recovery themselves must have a supervisor or colleague submit a letter on their behalf, verifying sobriety. Fees are as follows: $50 for application, $225 for written examination, $125 for case presentation.
CADCs must renew their license every two years. They must complete a continuing education requirement and affirm that they have not misused substances during the prior two-year period.
Oregon Substance Abuse Associations
The New Mexico Counseling Association (NMCA) is a state branch of the American Counseling Association (ACA). It was established in 1956 and encompasses a variety of counseling fields. Their purpose is to facilitate networking, promote professional development, improve counseling skills, and advocate for improved services to better meet the needs of patients in New Mexico.
- ACCBO: The Addiction Counselor Certification Board of Oregon. The board is charged with licensing addiction professionals and evaluating competency and experience through the required exam. The ACCBO website is a helpful resource for Oregon counseling candidates looking for more info on the testing process and the requirements they must meet before the big test.
- IC&RC: While the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium isn’t the main point of contact for addiction professionals in Oregon, it does function as a member board for the state of Oregon. The IC&RC provides additional certification credentials and continuing education opportunities for counseling professionals.
If you’re looking at this career path, you know you need to be compassionate and patient. On average, an Oregon addiction counselor can expect to make between $38k and $58k per year. Salaries tend to max out at the $58k point, even for those with a master’s degree.
Still, Oregon substance abuse counselors stand to make a significant impact on their clients’ lives, and that, for many, is more important than earning potential.