How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor In Washington
Nearly 64% of the people who suffer from addiction in Washington are under 30. Those who are suffering the most are the youngest, which means they are likely introduced to drugs and alcohol at a very young age. Are you looking for a career that can benefit your community? If you are wondering how to become a substance abuse counselor, you can find everything you need on this page.
Addiction counselors in Washington are provided credentials by the Washington State Department of Health. There are 2 different levels of credentialing. There is the Substance Use Disorder Professional Trainee (SUDPT) which is meant for those who are still working towards a degree, and the Substance Use Disorder Professional (SUDP).
Degree Requirements & Education
The SUDPT applicant must have a high school diploma or higher. At the time of application they must be enrolled in an approved program at a college or university. The SUDP applicant must have at least an Associate’s Degree in a human services related field or at least 60 successfully completed semester college credits. 30 of these semester credits must be substance abuse related. Specific topics may include but are not limited to:
- Understanding addiction
- Pharmacological actions of alcohol and other drugs
- Substance abuse and addiction treatment methods
- Understanding addiction placement, continuing care, and discharge criteria, including American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) criteria
- Cultural diversity, including people with disabilities, and its implication for treatment
- Substance use clinical evaluation
- HIV/AIDS brief risk intervention for people with substance use disorder
- Substance use disorder treatment planning
- Referral and use of community resources
- Service coordination
- Individual counseling
- Group counseling
- Substance use disorder counseling for families, couples and significant others
- Client, family and community education
- Developmental psychology
- Psychopathology/abnormal psychology
- Documentation, to include screening, intake, assessment, treatment plan, clinical reports, clinical progress notes, discharge summaries and other client-related data
- Substance use disorder confidentiality
- Professional and ethical responsibilities
- Relapse prevention
- Adolescent substance use disorder assessment and treatment
- Substance use disorder case management
- Substance use disorder rules and regulations
The SUDPTs are not required to have any experience prior to application, only be enrolled in an educational program. Supervised experience for SUDP applicants is dependent on their level of education. If the applicant has a(n)…
Associate’s Degree they must complete 2,500 hours of substance abuse counseling
- Bachelor’s Degree they must complete 2,000 hours of substance abuse counseling
- Master’s Degree or higher they must complete 1,500 hours of substance abuse counseling
850 hours of experience must include…
- 200 hours of clinical evaluation, of which 100 must be face-to-face patient contact
- 600 hours of face-to-face counseling that must include individual counseling, group counseling, family counseling, and couples counseling
- 50 hours of Ethical and Professional Responsibilities discussion
Applicants are required by state and federal law to provide their social security number when applying. Upon applications, all applicants will undergo a criminal background check. If an application is not approved due to something found during the investigation, the applicant may write to the DOH and ask for an appeal. Applicants will be formally notified of a denial of application.
When submitting transcripts, it is important they are official transcripts that were sealed by the actual institution.
All initial applications along with the correct fee must be mailed to the Department of Health, P.O. Box 1099, Olympia, WA 98507-1099. Any supporting documents that were not sent in with the initial application should be mailed to Substance Use Disorder Credentialing, Olympia, WA 98507-1099.
- The SUDPT application can be found here: SUDPT Application. This application fee is $110.
- The SUDP application can be found here: SUDP Application. This application fee is $260. Upon certification there is an initial certification fee of $295.
There are 2 different exam routes that the Department of Health accepts for substance abuse counselors. The National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) administers the NCAC I Exam which has a fee of $235. This exam or any higher level exam by NAADAC is accepted by the DOH. The other option is to take an exam administered by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) which must be level 2 or higher. Study materials, candidate guides, and online practice exams for the IC&RC can be found here: IC&RC Exam Prep.
SUDPTs must renew their certification every year on the date of issuance. Because the SUDPT credential is meant for applicants working towards their SUDP, they are only eligible to renew this credential 4 times. Every year they apply for renewal, they must prove they are still enrolled in an educational program working towards a degree. The trainee level does not require continuing education since the trainee should already be enrolled in such an educational program. The renewal fee for the trainee credential is $90.
The SUDPs are required to renew their certification every year on their birthday. However the counselor is only required to complete 40 documented clock hours of continuing education every 2 years. The renewal fee is $300.