Oregon Substance Abuse Counselor Certification

Addiction Counseling Requirements, Oregon

Are you considering becoming a substance abuse counselor in the state of Oregon? The state’s need for addiction counselors continues to grow. As recently as 2019, studies show that Oregon has more adult drug users than any other state in the USA! Sadly it is not only adults, but teens too. Oregon ranks 3rd in the country for teen drug use. Every counselor has the ability to make a huge difference in the world, whether it is just one person or an entire community they are able to help. If you are considering this career field, read on to learn how to become a substance abuse counselor.

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The Mental Health & Addiction Certification Board (MHACBO) of Oregon offers 3 different levels of certification. These certifications are:

    1. Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor I (CADC I) which is known as the “Associate Proficiency Level”
    2. Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (CADC II) which is known as the “Baccalaureate Proficiency Level”
    3. Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor III (CADC III) which is known as the “Graduate Proficiency Level”

Degree & Education Requirements

All 3 different levels of certification have different degree requirements.

  • CADC I does NOT require a college degree, but does require a high school diploma with 150 alcohol and drug specific education hours
  • CADC II does require a Bachelor’s Degree (or the equivalency- which is at least an AA degree with 90 college credits) with 300 alcohol and drug specific education hours
  • CADC III does require a Master’s Degree with at least 300 alcohol and drug specific education hours

All applicants will be required to take these courses or the equivalent as part of the required education hours: Basic Counseling Skills, Group Counseling Skills, Alcohol & Drugs of Abuse Pharmacology, HIV/AIDS Risk Assessment & Risk Reduction, Counseling Ethics, Clinical Evaluation ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine Patient Placement Criteria 2 and DSM Substance Abuse Disorders). CADC II and CADC III applicants will also need a Coexisting Disorders class as well as Counseling Diverse Populations in addition to the above. The CADC III applicants will lastly need the Theories of Addiction Tx class.

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Experience Requirements

The different levels of certification naturally have different experience requirements.

  • The CADC I requires 1,000 supervised experience hours in the addiction counselor field
  • The CADC II requires 4,000 supervised experience hours in the addiction counselor field
  • The CADC II requires 6,000 supervised experience hours in the addiction counselor field

    Letters of Verification

    Every level of addiction counselor is required to also turn in a letter of verification of recovery from one of the patients they treated via the applicant’s supervisor. The CADC I requires a verification letter that documents a patient at 2 years of recovery while the CADC II & III requires a letter for 3 years of recovery.

    Criminal Background

    The Board makes note that certain crimes will make applicants ineligible to obtain a counselor position in Oregon. If the applicant has been convicted for the crimes, even for attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy of the following crimes, they are ineligible forever to receive credentials from the Board: Aggravated murder, Murder, Rape I, Sodomy I, Unlawful sexual penetration I, and Sexual abuse I.


    The application is the same for all applicants. The application can be found online here: CADC Application. There is a one time $50 application fee. When mailing in applications, it is also necessary to include the testing fee. The application along with its supporting documents should be mailed to: MHACBO 2209 Lloyd Ctr, Portland, OR 97232-1315.


    All of the exams are administered by the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). The required exams for each level are as follows: CADC I requires the National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level I (NCAC I) Exam, the CADC II requires the NCAC II Exam, and for the CADC III must take the Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) Exam along with the Jurisprudence Ethics Exam. The CADC III applicant will find out how and went to apply and take the Jurisprudence Ethics Exam after passing the MAC exam.

    When mailing in the application, the applicant must include the exam fee of $220. The Board will automatically schedule the applicant for the next available testing date unless the applicant requests otherwise.

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    Certification renewal for all 3 different CADC levels must take place every 2 years. The counselors will need 40 hours of continuing education to qualify for recertification. At least 6 hours should be in Ethics, a minimum of 20 hours in Alcohol & Drug Counseling Education, and a maximum of 20 hours in Counseling Education. There is a renewal fee of $175. Access the Renewal Application here: Renewal Application.