South Carolina Substance Counselor Certification

How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor in South Carolina

Are you wondering how to become a substance abuse counselor in your state? Substance abuse counselors in South Carolina are certified by the South Carolina Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (SCAADAC). The Association offers 2 levels of certification: Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) and Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC).

Degree Requirements & Education

ADC applicants are required to hold a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in a human services field. The AADC applicant must have a Master’s Degree in a human services field.

Educational clock hours are centered around the 4 different domains which are:

  • Domain I: Screening, Assessment, and Engagement
  • Domain II: Treatment Planning, Collaboration, and Referral
  • Domain III: Counseling
  • Domain IV: Professional and Ethical Responsibilities

The ADC applicant must have completed at least 300 clock hours of education within the counseling domains. The AADC will need 450 of these educational hours. These hours can be obtained from college courses, seminars, and workshops. All new applicants need at least 6 hours in Ethics and 3 hours in HIV/AIDS courses. Three college semester hours are equivalent to 30 clock hours.

Experience Requirements & Supervision

The ADC certification requires the applicant to obtain 4,000 hours of supervised work experience (or 2 years of full time employment). The AADC certification requires the applicant to work 8,000 hours in a supervised setting (or 4 years of full time employment). For these hours to be counted towards certification, the employer/supervisor will need to write a letter to the Association. This letter must be on official letterhead and detail the dates of employment, along with the duties performed by the applicant. If the applicant has worked at more than one place while working for the required hours, they will need to get letters from all previous employers.

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Both the ADC and AADC applicants will need 200 of these hours to be under direct supervision by a clinical supervisor in the addictions counseling field.


Transcripts must be sent directly to the Association from the educational institution; or uploaded online. It is important the applicants also sign the South Carolina Certification Ethical Standards either in writing or online. ADC applicants that hold a Bachelor’s Degree will need to submit a written case file with the application. This case file should include intake, notes, treatment, and recovery information. ADC applicants that hold a Bachelor’s Degree will also be required to submit a one page long philosophy essay. This essay should detail the applicant’s own philosophy, style of counseling, and personal thoughts on their career path.

Applications will be completed and turned in online. The application process is done through Certemy. Applicants will be able to register and apply here: Online Application. The application fee is dependent upon if the applicant is or is not a member of NAADAC. If the applicant is a member, the fee is $175. If the applicant is not a member, the fee is $225. After 10 business days, the applicant should receive an “in process” letter online. After this, the applicants can request to make a date to take the required examination through the Association.

ADCs are able to upgrade to AADC. There is an upgrade fee for members of $75 and non-members of $125.


The Association currently accepts the NCAC I & II Exams from NAADAC for the ADC and AADC. These exams will only be accepted through June 1, 2021. Beyond that date, only the ADC and AADC Exams from the IC&RC will be accepted. The IC&RC offers study materials such as candidate guides, practice exams, and more here: IC&RC Exam Prep. ADC applicants who hold a Bachelor’s Degree will be required to take the Oral Interview Exam as well. The fee for members is $100 while for non-members it is $175.

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Certifications are valid for 2 years from the date of issue. The Association generally emails counselors 60 days prior to the expiration of their certification to remind them it is time for renewal. Counselors are encouraged to submit all recertification materials (application, fee, etc.) 30 days prior to expiration. Applicants will be required to take 40 hours of continuing education during the 2 year period of certification. The applicant must actually attend class, seminar, or workshop for at least 20 clock hours and take 6 hours in Professional Ethics. There is a $125 recertification fee for members and $225 recertification fee for non-members. Recertification applications can be found in Certemy.