Few families remain untouched from the scourge of alcoholism and drug addiction. The national epidemic of substance abuse means the need for counselors is greater than ever, and there are many opportunities within the field. The United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, estimates the job growth for substance abuse counselors will grow 23 percent by 2026, a rate much faster than job growth overall. As of May, 2017, the median pay for substance abuse counselors was $43,300 per year.

Overview

The South Carolina Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (SCAADAC) is the state chapter of the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), also known as NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals. SCAADAC oversees eligibility and certification requirements for substance abuse counselors in the state.

Types of Licensure for South Carolina

South Carolina offers two levels of Certified Addiction Counselor, CAC I and II, with the latter a higher level than the former. There is a supervisory licensure at the Certified Clinical Supervisor (CSS) level. A Master Addiction Counselor certification is also available for professionals.

All candidates must sign an affirmation of adherence to the Code of Ethics.

Education Requirements

south-carolina3

Unlike some other states that do not require more than a high school diploma or the equivalent for addiction counseling, such candidates must possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in South Carolina. A candidate may qualify with an associate degree if that degree is earned in some field of human services. The bachelor’s degree may have been earned in any major. The CAC 1 candidate requires at least 270 educational hours relating to core addiction counselor activities. These core activities, as defined by the SCAADAC, include:

  • Intake/ Screening - Determining a client’s appropriateness and eligibility for admission to a program; performing initial administrative procedures for admission to the program.
  • Orientation- The provision of information to the client regarding his/her situation (i.e., legal status, services to be provided, program rules, etc.).
  • Orientation- The provision of information to the client regarding his/her situation (i.e., legal status, services to be provided, program rules, etc.).
  • Orientation- The provision of information to the client regarding his/her situation (i.e., legal status, services to be provided, program rules, etc.).
  • Orientation- The provision of information to the client regarding his/her situation (i.e., legal status, services to be provided, program rules, etc.).
  • Treatment planning - The utilization of the assessment by the client and counselor to prepare a written set of goals to be achieved by the client and the methods by which the client will meet them.
  • Client education- The provision of information to a client which is based on general knowledge and is not unique to the patient’s situation.
  • Crisis intervention - The provision of immediate services to a client in emergency circumstances.
  • Case consultation - The giving or receiving of information, advice and aid between professionals about a particular case.
  • Referral- The placement of the client in the services as indicated by the treatment plan and follow-up with both the client and the service to which he or she was referred.
  • Reports and Recordkeeping - Charting the results of the assessment and treatment plan: writing reports, progress notes, discharge summaries and other client-related data.

While college courses relating to this discipline or other forms of counseling is credited at a rate of 15 hours per each semester hour, it is possible to have certain non-academic courses approved for credit. Unless the course is NAADAC-approved, the candidate must clear the course in advance to receive credit. Certain internships may qualify for credit.

The CAC II candidate must have a minimum of 450 educational hours relating to core addiction counselor activities. The CCS candidate must have current certification as a CAC II, and needs at least a bachelor’s degree in the field of human services or a master’s degree in the human service field.

Official transcripts must verify all college work. Candidates should contact their academic institution to request forwarding of official transcripts to the SCAADAC certification commission. Applicants cannot submit transcripts – if they do, these transcripts are not accepted or reviewed.

Testing Process for South Carolina

south-carolina4

Candidates for the CAC I designation must take the NAADAC Level 1 examination, which has a written and oral component. Oral examinations are scheduled four times annually, in February, May, August and November. Those aiming for CAC II certification must take the NAADAC Level 2 exam. Those who do not initially pass the written examination may ask to take the test again during the next scheduled examination.

For the oral examination, the candidate must demonstrate competency in all core activities. The candidate must submit a written case history, along with a statement of the philosophy of treatment. These interviews are taped, with the recordings becoming part of the candidate’s file. Should the candidate not successfully complete the oral examination, the tapes remain in the file until the applicant does successfully complete the oral examination.

For the oral examination, the candidate must demonstrate competency in all core activities. The candidate must submit a written case history, along with a statement of the philosophy of treatment. These interviews are taped, with the recordings becoming part of the candidate’s file. Should the candidate not successfully complete the oral examination, the tapes remain in the file until the applicant does successfully complete the oral examination.

The Counselor Certification and Recertification Manual

south-carolina5

Applicants must obtain the Counselor Certification and Recertification Manual from the SCAADAC. Applicable forms are included in the manual. The candidate is responsible for ensuring that he or she is using the latest version of the manual and relevant application forms. All candidates must submit the processing fee along with their completed application. All requirement for application and the taking of examination must occur within three years of the candidate’s initial application date. If the candidate cannot meet the requirements within this time frame, all evaluations, applications, official job descriptions and the signed Code of Ethics affirmation of adherence require updating, and a new application fee is necessary. Mail the completed application to:

SCAADAC Certification Commission
1215 Anthony Avenue
Columbia, SC 29201

Once the SCAADAC receives a complete application, an administrative review is conducted. If any addition items are needed for completion, the applicant is sent a checklist. Once the candidate receives a receipt of application confirmation, they may then schedule a written exam. Once the written examination is passed, the candidate may schedule an oral examination, and the SCAADAC certification commission notifies candidates of the testing locations and dates. Prior to the scheduling of any exam, the candidate must pay all fees to the SCAADAC.

Written examination results are sent to the applicant by the testing authority. The SCAADAC certification commission gives the oral examination results in writing to the candidate within 10 days after completion. Results are never given over the telephone or per request.

Criminal Background Check

All candidates must pass a criminal background check, including fingerprinting. The application also includes a question regarding whether a candidate has ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation. If the answer is affirmative, the candidate must attach an explanation to the application including how the situation was resolved.

Clinical Supervision Explained

A CAC I candidate must undergo a minimum of 150 hours of clinical supervision, along with 4,000 hours of qualifying experience. This experience must take place within the previous five years. A CAC II candidate requires at least 8,000 hours of experience prior to certification eligibility, also received within the previous five years. The CCS candidate needs a minimum of 10,000 hours of experience over the previous five years, including at least 150 hours of direct supervision by a professional holding the CCS title. In addition, CCS candidates require a minimum of 30 hours of clinical supervision training.

Renewal/Continuing Education

south-carolina7

Certifications are good for two years. Applicants will receive a reminder that their certification is due two months prior to the expiration date, and the renewal application and required fee is due 30 days prior to expiration. A late fee is imposed if the applicant does not meet this deadline. Currently, the re-certification fee for SCAADAC members is $175 and that for non-members is $225. The late application fee is $50 for members and $75 for non-members.

The applicant must provide documentation, including a signed certification letter of agreement and the list of courses/training relating to the core activities, along with the appropriate fees. These are the recertification requirements:

  • At least 20 hours as an attendee
  • Two hours of professional ethics.
  • No more than 20 of the 40 hours necessary for recertification may be earned at events where the trainer is the applicant.
  • No more than half of the hours required for recertification may be earned via home study and/or online education.
  • An organization, group or institution recognized as knowledgeable in the substance abuse order field must sponsor any continuing education. Non-field courses, such as those in organization, management, operations or administration does not fulfill the educational requirements for either certification or recertification.

Reciprocity

SCAADAC grants reciprocity for those counselors already accredited by NAADAC, or by the International Reciprocity and Certification Consortium (IRCC). Reciprocity is also available for counselors whose state boards use NAADAC or IRCC exams. Such candidates must furnish all of their educational, experience and examination documentation to the SCAADAC. Those who are a member of the NAADAC must submit a copy of their membership card and pay a fee, currently $175. Non-members must pay a fee of $225.

Associations for South Carolina

Headquartered in Columbia, nonprofit SAADAC’s mission is establishing a statewide addiction counselor association, along with those interested in addiction counseling. It provides public education regarding addiction, prevention and treatment, along with promoting high continuing education standards for the addiction counselor professionals