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Turning Your State Addiction Counselor Certification Into a National One

Many of our students are concerned about reciprocity between two states, however many do not realize that they can parlay their state certification, in some cases, into a national certification that is recognized across the United States.

Why would somebody need or want a national certification in addiction counseling?

It’s a good question, since addiction counseling is very much an up close and personal endeavor. However, one of the biggest challenges in the treatment industry is reaching those in rural areas that do not have easy access to appropriate counselors or treatment facilities. It is these rural areas that often feel the brunt of the drug abuse epidemic as they do not have the resources that larger cities and suburban areas do to fight the scourge of addiction and substance abuse. Having a certification that is valid across the United States allows qualified addiction counselors to provide their important services anywhere in the United States either in person or via Telehealth sessions.

The definitive source for these national certifications is NAADAC. The Association for Addiction Professionals. NAADAC offers 3 levels of certification – the NCAC I, NCAC II and Master Addiction Counselor MAC. An example of the requirements for the NCAC I credential (From NAADAC) is:

  • GED, High School diploma, or higher.
  • Current credential or license as a Substance Use Disorders/Addiction Counselor or Professional Counselor (social worker, mental health, marriage & family therapist or LAP-C) issued by a state or credentialing authority.
  • At least three years full-time or 6,000 hours of supervised experience as a Substance Use Disorders/Addiction Counselor.
  • At least 270 contact hours of education and training in Substance Use Disorders/Addiction or related counseling subjects.
    • Must include at least six hours of ethics education and training within the last six years.
    • Must include at least six hours of HIV/other pathogens education and training within the last six years.
  • A passing score on one of the following exams:
    • NCAC Level One exam through NCCAP.
    • ADC exam through the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC & RC).

As you can see, the training and work experience requirements above largely follow the requirements of the Florida certification board for the certified addiction counselor. The other two levels are similar to the higher Florida Certification Board certifications. However, these do require additional training hours beyond what the state certification stipulates.

Of course, a national certification doesn’t make sense for every candidate, however for those looking to broaden the geographic horizons of their practice, pursuing a national addiction certification may be a good next step.

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