Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements in Idaho

Idaho does not license substance abuse counselors but does define “qualified professional” as it relates to those delivering services in state facilities. According to state administrative code, there are multiple pathways to being deemed qualified; a professional may hold licensing in another health discipline or pursue certification through an approved organization (

The Idaho Board of Alcohol/Drug Counselor Certification (IBADCC) certifies individuals who might not otherwise be deemed qualified. IBADCC is a member board of the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). The organization grants counselor certification at either of two levels. Both require degrees. An associate level certificate is also available; it requires coursework but not a degree.

Idaho can also accept certification from the Northwest Indian Alcohol/Drug Specialization Board at either of two levels.

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Idaho Board of Alcohol/Drug Counselor Certification

CADC certification: The lower IBADCC credential is Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor (CADC). The certification is now bachelor’s level. The degree must be in behavioral science. Counseling, psychology, social science, alcohol and drug studies, social work, and sociology are all considered behavioral science. IBADCC notes that this list is not all inclusive. To qualify, the individual must also have 270 hours of education that addresses IC&RC domains and tasks.

Education may include formal college courses or workshops and seminars approved by any of the following organizations: IC&RC, Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), State of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), National Association of Social Workers (NASW), or IBADCC. One university credit hour is considered the equivalent of 15 clock hours. Limited in-service hours can be credited.

Six hours of ethics education is required. It must relate specifically to substance abuse counseling and must cover client welfare, professional competence, federal and state law, institutional and professional relationships, financial issues, and personal wellness.

The substance abuse counselor must also fulfill an experience requirement. A candidate with a bachelor’s degree is required to complete 4,000 hours. With a master’s in an appropriate field, the requirement is just 2,000 hours.

200 supervision hours will be required; IBADCC notes that while these hours may be thought of as practicum, it is not necessary that they be completed for college credit. With a master’s in an appropriate field, the requirement is dropped to 150 hours.

The supervisor may have any of the following qualifications:

  • Advanced Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor (ACADC) credential
  • CADC credential (if the individual has been certified for three years and has completed the required supervision training)
  • Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS) credential
  • Master’s degree and addictions counseling certification or licensure
  • Idaho Health and Welfare Clinical Supervisor approval

An examination is also required.

ACADC Certification: To earn the Advanced Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor credential, an individual must have a master’s degree in a behavioral science discipline; the program must include a clinical component. The individual must have 180 hours of education that addresses the required IC&RC performance domains. Ethics training is required, as is examination. The professional must also have 2,000 hours of experience; this must include 300 hours of supervision in 12 core functions.

The Application Process: Individuals may visit the IBADCC website to initiate the certification process. Three references are required. Background clearance is also required. Applicants are directed to contact IBADCC for instructions.

A candidate applying for CADC or ACADC certification should be prepared to pay an $80 application fee and a $235 testing fee. The examination is not scheduled until after the application has been approved.

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Certification Reciprocity

Certification Reciprocity: IBADCC notes that professionals may consult the IC&RC Member Board for information about reciprocity (

Northwest Indian Alcohol/Drug Specialization Board Certification

Individuals certified by the Northwest Indian Alcohol/Drug Specialization Board Certification at Levels II or III are considered qualified professionals as opposed to trainees (

A Chemical Dependency Counselor II needs 100 semester hours of coursework or the equivalent. The counselor must accrue 5,000 hours of experience to reach this level. By this stage, the counselor will have taken the NAADAC and tested in some additional areas, including cultural diversity.

With additional experience and education, a counselor can achieve Chemical Dependency Counselor III status.

NBCC Master Addiction Counselor Certification

Also referenced in Idaho administrative code is the NBCC Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) credential. To be eligible for this credential, one must have a qualifying master’s degree and meet general requirements for National Counselor Certification (NCC) as well as requirements pertaining specifically to addiction counseling. NCC certification requires completion of a 48 semester hour counseling program that includes fieldwork and coursework in nine required content areas. Candidates must pass the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examinations. Additionally, some candidates are required to demonstrate 3,000 hours of post-degree practice and 100 hours of supervision. This is not required of graduates of CACREP-accredited programs or qualifying doctoral programs.

Candidates for MAC specialty certification must demonstrate 12 semester hours of addiction coursework. Up to 500 hours of addiction-related CE may be credited — or up to three semester hours each of marriage and family and group counseling coursework ( The candidate must have at least three years of relevant experience at no less than 20 hours per week; at least two of these must be completed post-master. The Examination for Master Addictions Counselors (EMAC) will be required.

Examination information is available on the NBCC site (

The Application Process

Clinicians may demonstrate that they are qualified to work in by mailing or faxing a copy of their qualifying license or certification to the Division of Behavioral Health (

Individuals who have the requisite training and experience may visit the IBADCC website to initiate the certification process. IBADCC requires that transcripts of university coursework be sent straight from the issuing institution. Three references are required; they must be in sealed, signed envelopes. Background clearance is also required. IBADCC refers candidates to the Idaho Background Check Unit to initiate the process ( Individuals may apply and schedule online. They may also view a list of Idaho fingerprinting locations.

The examination is not scheduled until after the application fee has been paid and it has been approved. Detailed candidate information is found in the candidate handbook.

Substance Use Disorders Professional Trainees

Idaho also recognizes qualified substance use disorders professional trainees. A trainee may be recognized on the basis of enrollment in a qualifying program, classification as an Idaho Student in Addiction Studies, or certification as a Northwest Indian Alcohol/Drug Specialist Counselor 1.

Additional Information

Candidates should be aware that state policies have changed at more than one point in recent years. The information here was retrieved in October, 2021

The Idaho Board of Alcohol/Drug Counselor Certification can be reached at ‘ibadcc at’. There is an option to schedule a call. (

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