In substance abuse treatment, counseling certifications and counselors themselves go by numerous names and titles. Depending on where you are located different titles are used to refer to professions with similar responsibilities; however, the type of certification obtained by an individual helps distinguish the level of care a person is able to provide and the career opportunities available to them.
Credentials and Certifications
The National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NCCAP) has created national-level standardized certifications for addiction counselors. This standardized approach to training addiction counselors ensures that all participants have current, relevant knowledge that allows them to work within the field. It also ensures that counselors are able to perform at a specific level and it provides a baseline for quality care throughout the country.
There are various paths a person can take in obtaining certification, and each level of certification provides varying degrees of formal training. Levels of certification include:
- National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level I (NCAC I)
- National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level II (NCAC II)
- Master Addiction Counselor with Co-Occurring Disorders Component (MAC)
There are also variations of these titles that are state specific. For example, in California, counselors are referred to as Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Level I (CADC I) or Level II (CADC II). The change is levels depends on the amount of experience they have actually working in the field. Another example is that a “Master” may refer to a similar credential as one that is called “Licensed.” Learn more about the specific names and requirements of substance abuse certifications in your state.
Additionally, it is possible to obtain specialized certifications through credentials such as:
- Nicotine Dependence Specialist (NDS)
- National Certified Adolescent Addiction Counselor (NCAAC)
- National Endorsed Student Assistance Professional (NESAP)
- National Clinical Supervision Endorsement (NCSE)
- National Endorsed Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (NECODP)
- National Peer Recovery Support Specialist (NCPRSS)
The certifications a person obtains determines the title they take on in the field.
Titles in Addiction Treatment
Addiction has not always been viewed as a disease and as discussions surrounding addressing addiction treatment evolved, titles for those working the field needed to change to become more inclusive. The varying titles reflect the views or ideas about addiction at the inception of the job and do not indicate differences in the type of treatment provided.
For instance, a substance abuse counselor may be called:
- Substance Use Disorder Counselor
- Chemical Dependency Professional
- Alcohol and Drug Counselor
- Addiction Counselor
Titles however, can give some indication about the level of service a person can provide and indicate their scope of practice. For example, a title that includes “therapy” or “therapist” indicates a person has a higher level of education and training in the field. Title can also indicate if a person is affiliated with a specific board or has achieved specific training.
Often times, terms such as “counseling” and “therapy” are used interchangeably and public perception frequently shifts based off the term used. Preconceived notions about what these terms mean in relation to the services provided influence the title a person chooses. Additionally, if a person chooses to explore a specific area of practice or implements particular theories or ideas in treatment, they may choose to further individualize their titles.
Certification Add Value
Obtaining a certification, license, or degree in a particular area adds value making them more desirable to employers. Not only are there laws in most states requiring employees to obtain certain certifications or degrees in order to work in an accredited program, but having “letters” behind your name means you are credible, have the hard skills necessary to perform the job, and makes you eligible for higher positions within a treatment organization.
Interested in Getting Started?
If you are interested in working the growing field of addiction treatment get stared today with a Certification in Drug and Alcohol Counseling contact us to learn more about earning the education you need.