A Meaningful Career for Those in Recovery

For individuals who have beaten their substance use disorders, embarking on a career as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) can be a deeply fulfilling and impactful journey. Not only does this career path offer the opportunity to give back and support others in their recovery, but it also provides a stable and fulfilling professional future. Here are seven compelling reasons why becoming a CADC is an excellent career choice for people in recovery.

addiction Help

1. The Power of Shared Experience

One of the most common reasons for individuals in recovery to become CADCs is the power of shared experience. Having personally navigated the challenges of addiction and recovery, people in recovery possess a unique empathy and understanding that can clients might be able to relate to more easily. Your journey can serve as a powerful testament to the possibility of recovery, inspiring and motivating others to pursue their own path to sobriety.

2. Turning Struggle into Strength

Transforming personal struggles into a professional mission is a powerful way to find purpose and meaning in your career. As a CADC, you have the chance to turn your experiences into strength for others looking to overcome addiction and rebuild their lives. This not only helps clients in your care but also contributes to a larger effort to combat substance use disorders and their devastating impacts.

The Path to Becoming a CADC

Step 1: Meeting the Educational Requirements

To become a CADC in North Carolina, you’ll need to meet certain educational requirements. Most people go for degrees in counseling, psychology, social work, or similar fields, and then take extra courses in substance abuse counseling. This education gives you the knowledge and skills you need to be an effective addiction counselor.

CADC Study

Step 2: Gaining Supervised Work Experience

After completing the educational requirements, the next step is to gain supervised work experience. This hands-on training is super important for developing practical skills and gaining real-world knowledge and experience. During this period, you’ll work under the guidance of experienced addiction counselors, receiving invaluable feedback and support. This step not only enhances your professional competencies but also solidifies your commitment to the field. Most CADCs say that this portion was the most helpful to them in honing their craft.

Step 3: Passing the Certification Exam

The certification exam is a critical milestone on your journey to becoming a CADC. This comprehensive test assesses your knowledge and skills in various areas known as the 12 core functions, they are listed below.

  1. Screening: Determining if a client is appropriate and eligible for admission to a particular program.
  2. Intake: Completing the admission process, which includes paperwork and initial assessments.
  3. Orientation: Introducing the client to the program’s goals, rules, and services.
  4. Assessment: Gathering detailed information about the client’s substance use and related areas to develop a comprehensive understanding of their situation.
  5. Treatment Planning: Developing an individualized plan based on the assessment that outlines goals and strategies for the client’s recovery.
  6. Counseling: Providing individual, group, and family therapy to address substance use and co-occurring issues.
  7. Case Management: Coordinating services and resources to support the client’s treatment and recovery.
  8. Crisis Intervention: Addressing urgent issues that arise during treatment, such as potential harm to the client or others.
  9. Client Education: Providing information about substance use, mental health, and recovery to help clients make informed decisions.
  10. Referral: Connecting clients with additional services and resources that are outside the scope of the counselor’s expertise.
  11. Reports and Record Keeping: Documenting the client’s progress, treatment, and other relevant information in a clear and professional manner.
  12. Consultation: Collaborating with other professionals to provide the best possible care for the client.

Step 4: Applying for Certification

Once you’ve met the educational and experience requirements and passed the certification exam, you can apply for the CADC credential through the North Carolina Addictions Specialist Professional Practice Board (NCASPPB). This process involves submitting documentation and paying the necessary fees. Upon approval, you’ll be officially recognized as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor.

CADC Certification

Step 5: Maintaining Your Certification

Maintaining your CADC certification involves ongoing professional development, including continuing education and adherence to ethical standards. Staying current with advancements in the field ensures that you provide the highest quality of care to your clients, continually enhancing your professional expertise. One way to stay on top and up to date with your credentials is by using an online CEU service like Bayside CEU, or CEUs4 less.

Why This Career Choice is Especially Good for People in Recovery

3. Personal Fulfillment

Helping others navigate the path to recovery can be immensely fulfilling. Many people in recovery find that working as a CADC brings a profound sense of purpose and satisfaction. You’ll witness firsthand the positive impact you can have on others’ lives, reinforcing your own commitment to sobriety and well-being.

4. Professional Stability and Growth

The demand for skilled addiction counselors is on the rise, ensuring strong job security and opportunities for career advancement. As a CADC, you can work in diverse settings, including rehabilitation centers, hospitals, private practices, and community organizations. This career also offers pathways to further specialization and advancement, such as becoming a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS) or a Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS).

5. Empowerment Through Expertise

Becoming a CADC empowers you to use your experiences and knowledge to make a meaningful difference. The skills and insights you gain through this career not only improve your professional life but also contribute to your personal growth and resilience. You’ll continuously learn and evolve, staying at the forefront of addiction counseling practices.

6. Community Impact

As a CADC, you’ll play a vital role in your community’s efforts to combat addiction. By providing education, prevention, and counseling services, you’ll help reduce the prevalence of substance use disorders and support healthier, more resilient communities. Your work will have a ripple effect, positively influencing not just your clients but also their families and the broader community.

Types of Licenses and Certifications in North Carolina

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)

The CADC certification is the foundational credential for addiction counselors. It signifies that you have met the educational, experience, and ethical standards necessary to provide effective counseling services to individuals with substance use disorders.

Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS)

The LCAS is an advanced license requiring a master’s degree and extensive experience. It allows counselors to provide clinical supervision, diagnose and treat co-occurring mental health disorders, and engage in complex aspects of addiction treatment.

Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist Associate (LCASA)

The LCASA is an entry-level license for those who have met the educational requirements for the LCAS but need to complete supervised clinical experience. It allows individuals to gain the necessary experience under supervision while working towards full LCAS licensure.

Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)

The CCS credential is for experienced addiction counselors who provide clinical supervision to other counselors. It requires significant experience and specialized training in clinical supervision, ensuring that supervisors can effectively mentor and oversee other professionals.

Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)

The CPS certification focuses on preventing substance use disorders through education and community outreach. CPS professionals work in schools, community organizations, and public health departments to implement prevention programs and strategies.

Certified Clinical Supervisor Intern (CCS-I)

The CCS-I is a transitional credential for those working towards becoming a Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS). It allows professionals to gain supervised experience in clinical supervision while completing the requirements for full certification.

Making a Positive Impact

7. Making a Lasting Difference

Choosing a career as a CADC not only provides a path to professional success but also offers the opportunity to make a significant positive impact. By supporting others in their recovery journeys, you’ll contribute to a healthier, more compassionate society. This career allows you to blend personal experience with professional expertise, creating a powerful force for change in the lives of those you serve.


Becoming a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) is an excellent career choice for individuals in recovery. It offers the chance to turn personal experiences into professional expertise, providing meaningful and impactful support to others. With the growing demand for skilled addiction counselors, this career path promises stability, growth, and a profound sense of purpose. By choosing to become a CADC, you’ll not only enhance your own recovery journey but also make a lasting difference in the lives of countless individuals and communities.

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