alcohol and drug counselor

What is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Designation ADC

The Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) designation is one of the few national credentials in the field of substance abuse counseling.  Created in 1981, the ADC is the largest credential in the field of addiction-related behavioral healthcare, with over 20,000 professionals world-wide.  There are many State-specific designations in the field, which make things very confusing and difficult to write about for a national website.  For example, in Florida, there is a very popular Certified Addictions Professional (CAP) designation.  However, with national designations, the ADC is the one to take a close look at as more than 63 countries, U.S. States and territories offer a reciprocal ADC credential.

“Counselors who treat people with substance use disorders do life-changing work on a daily
basis. The diversity of backgrounds and types of preparation can be a strength, provided there is a common foundation from which counselors work. Workforce development is essential to the field of substance use disorder treatment.”
- U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor Outlook

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), in it’s 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook, has named substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors as one of the fastest CADCgrowing professions, with and expected growth rate of 21% by 2018.  There were estimated to be over 80,000 of these jobs in 2012 and over 4,000 job openings per year in this field.  It is an attractive career because of stable salaries and the ability for advancement.

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Requirements

This is where things get tricky – and confusing.  It depends on where you live and who you want to work for.  Some counselors have a high school diploma yet have thousands of hours of experience in the substance abuse field.  Other counselors have a bachelors or master’s degree education.  If you wish to be in private practice, you will always need to be licensed and the demands on you will be much more stringent.   You can find information about your particular area from the Credentialing Board in your State or Country linked from This Page.

Alcohol and Drug Counselor Salary

Alcohol and Drug Counselor Salaries vary quite a bit based on several factors.  One of those is the level of education that you’ve obtained, whether it be a high school education or a master’s level degree.  Another is the area of the country that you are living in as some areas command bigger salaries than others.  Another factor to consider is the type of employer, as private hospitals generally pay more than a public one.   The typical salary for this position is listed at about $38,500 with ranged up to $60,000.  A great page with regional information for salary ranges and even volume of jobs per area can be found HERE.

Alcohol and Drug Counselor Training

Regardless of whether you have a high school diploma or greater, you will be asked to take relevant courses in order to be Certified as a drug and alcohol counselor.  Some of those courses are likely to be in subjects such as: Alcoholism, Pharmacology, Group Counseling, Addiction and Families, Dual Diagnosis, Ethics and Legal Studies, and more.  These types of subjects are all relevant to anyone who seeks employment in alcohol and drug counselor jobs.