Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements in Idaho

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Alcohol/Drug Abuse Prevention & Treatment Programs 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). Idaho accepts credentialing at either of two levels. The lower level does not require a college degree; it is granted on the basis of addiction-specific education and training, examination, and supervised experience. Candidates need background clearance.

Select an Idaho Alcohol/Drug Counselor topic below…

Idaho Board of Alcohol/Drug Counselor Certification

CADC certification: The introductory IBADCC credential is Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor (CADC). To qualify, the individual must have 270 hours of education that addresses IC&RC domains and tasks. A minimum of 30 hours must address each of the following domains: counseling, assessment, case management, professional responsibility, and alcohol and drug education.

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. No more than five hours of in-service can be credited.

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

The substance abuse counselor must also fulfill an experience requirement. The amount of experience will depend on whether the candidate has earned a behavioral science degree, and if so, at what level. With no qualifying degree, an individual will need 6,000 hours of experience (the equivalent of one full-time year). However, an associate’s degree in alcohol/drug studies or another behavioral science field can substitute for 1,000 hours (half a year). A bachelor’s degree counts for 2,000, a master’s, 4,000. Counseling, psychology, social science, social work, and sociology are all considered behavioral science. IBADCC notes that this list is not all inclusive; however, it has been determined that a criminal justice bachelor’s does not substitute for a year of experience (

300 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. 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 (ACADC) 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, with at least 30 hours in each of the five identified areas. 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.

Certification Reciprocity

IBADCC notes that professionals certified by other IC&RC boards may request a reciprocity form from IC & RC.

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 eight required content areas ( Candidates must pass the National Counselor Examination. Additionally, candidates from programs not accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) must demonstrate 3,000 hours of post-degree practice and 100 hours of supervision.

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 six semester hours of marriage and family and/or 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 and study guides for the NCE and EMAC are 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 ( Some changes went into effect in 2013. A recent newsletter notes it’s no longer necessary to document 1,040 hours (

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 Criminal History Unit to initiate the process ( Individuals may apply and schedule online ( They may also view a list of Idaho fingerprinting locations.

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. 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 ( Employees of Idaho facilities can expect to be fingerprinted before beginning work.

Additional Information

Candidates should be aware that state policies have changed at more than one point in recent years. Individuals interested in being recognized as qualified professionals can find contact information on the Department of Health and Welfare website (

The Idaho Board of Alcohol/Drug Counselor Certification can be reached at 208-468-8802. Applicants with questions may email: ibadcc at (