Certification Organizations

Each state has its own set of regulations regarding certification or licensing of addiction counselors. In California the Department of Health Care Services, Substance Use Disorders Compliance Division has currently approved three certification organizations. When the regulations were first instituted, there were ten. Each with their own requirements to meet or exceed the minimum outlined in Title 9, Chapter 8 of the California Code of Regulations.

To provide counseling in a state licensed or certified alcohol and other drug program (AOD), including a driving under the influence (DUI) program, a narcotic treatment program (NTP), a residential AOD program, an alcohol or drug recovery or treatment program certified to receive Medi-Cal reimbursement, or an alcohol or drug recovery or treatment program funded by the state, the counselor must be registered or certified with a DHCS approved certifying organization. Each program may choose which department approved certifying organization it will recognize for hiring purposes (§ 13010 (b).

DHCS Approved Certifying Organizations

The California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP) was formed in 2014 as a result of the consolidation of the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselors (CAADAC) and the California Association of Addiction Recovery Resources (CAARR). Both of the former organizations had existed for over 30 years and were approved certifying organizations since the regulations were instituted. CCAPP is the California Board for the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). Individuals certified by CCAPP who have passed the IC&RC exam may qualify for international reciprocity to other IC&RC boards.

The California Association of DUI Treatment Programs is a non-profit organization formed as a partner to its Member Organizations to promote the understanding and protect the integrity of the California DUI Programs through advocacy, education and collaboration with Legislators, State and County officials and other community stakeholders. CADTP was formed as an association in 1986 and incorporated in 1988.

The California Association for Alcohol/Drug Educators was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 1984 under the direction of founder Dr. Dick Wilson. CAADE initially began with the goal of setting and upholding accreditation standards for Alcohol/Drug Studies Programs in California and continues to do so.

International and National Certifying Organizations

The International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) promotes public protection by setting standards and developing exams for credentialing prevention, substance use treatment, and recovery professionals. Organized in 1981, it has a worldwide network of over 50,000 professionals.

Quality and integrity are the foundation of IC&RC’s work. IC&RC’s products use the latest research on evidence-based practices, and they are updated every five years and subjected to an extensive process of peer review. 

IC&RC standards and exams are used exclusively by IC&RC Boards. Each Board is independently run and operated with their own jurisdictionally specific processes. If you want to take an exam or earn a credential, contact the board in your jurisdiction.

IC&RC will be the globally recognized resource for prevention, substance use treatment, and recovery credentialing.

IC&RC credentials and examinations are administered exclusively by various certification and licensing boards in the United States and the world, including most branches of the US Military. These boards agree to adhere to IC&RC minimum standards for some of their credentials but final eligibility requirements and application processes are determined by each individual board. Professionals interested in earning a credential should contact the affiliate board that has jurisdiction in the area where they live or work.

The National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NCC AP), under the auspices of NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, operates as an independent body for all matters involving the Association’s substance use disorders counselor certification and endorsement opportunities at the national level. Professionals who wish to achieve NCC AP credentials must first become certified or licensed in their state. The NCC AP is not eligible for reciprocity in California by itself as it does not meet Title 9 requirements and is not NCCA accredited.

Other Certifying Organizations

There are other organizations in California offering addiction counseling certification and related specialty credentials. It is important to understand that these organizations are not NCCA accredited and are not approved by the State of California Department of Health Care Services, Substance Use Disorders Compliance Division. Individuals who hold credentials from these organizations alone are not eligible to provide counseling services in California as noted in regulations above.