How to Become an Addiction Counselor in Idaho

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What is Addiction Counseling?

Every mental health professional, to include addiction counseling, is required to be professionally licensed in Idaho. The Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses website allows counselors to renew online. Military veterans and active military service members and their spouses may receive expedited processing of their licenses and credits for military training.

Another professional board, The Idaho Board of Alcohol/Drug Counselor Certification (IDABCC), provides certifications for mental health professionals who are offering prevention, counseling, and recovery support services in the state. Addiction counseling professionals who receive certification through IBADCC communicate to their clients that they are maintaining annual continuing education requirements, along with ethical standards of care. Along with offering certification, the board also provides a Counselors Directory for the general public to use.

Addiction counselors who have graduated from the best addiction counseling schools in Idaho have the knowledge and skills to work with people who are suffering from an addiction. Whether their clients have thought they would be able to manage to beat their addictions on their own and has been court ordered into counseling or if the person knows they need professional help to enter recovery, substance abuse counselors are trained to have the tools to help.

Addiction counselors help clients to learn what has caused them to use either drugs or alcohol. They help them begin to share and process their feelings and increase awareness of negative thoughts so that they are able to break the train of negative thinking. Addiction counselors help their clients to learn about healthy coping skills and how to use them, identify their triggers to use substances, and develop a long-term sobriety plan.


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Addiction Counseling Education in Idaho


Addiction counselors provide a necessary service in Idaho, just as they do in every other state in the US. This profession, among many others, falls into the educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry, which brings $7 billion into the state each year.

Other large industries in Idaho include:

  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting ($3.1 billion)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services ($3.1 billion)
  • Finance and insurance ($3.5 billion)
  • Wholesale trade ($4.6 billion)
  • Construction ($5.1 billion)
  • Retail trade ($6 billion)
  • Professional and business services ($8 billion)
  • Manufacturing ($8.6 billion)
  • Real estate, rental, and leasing ($10.7 billion)

Associate Degree in Addiction Counseling (AS)

Community college students who plan to enter the mental health field to work with individuals suffering from an addiction to alcohol or other drugs may be able to get a good start with an associate degree in social work.

This two-year degree introduces them to what the field of social work is and who it helps. After graduation, students may choose to transfer to a four-year university or enter a clinical setting, where they may work as assistants. They may assist an addiction counselor as they work with clients or help addicted patients in a group setting.

When it’s time for students to earn their certifications, one choice they may have is the Certified Prevention Specialist. Applicants may need to show documentation of their college course credits and a certain level of experience in the field. Graduates may find employment in a social services agency, providing services for underrepresented populations or they may work in a healthcare setting.

Bachelor's Degree in Addiction Counseling (BS)

Undergraduate students wanting to become an addiction counselor in Idaho may find what they are looking for in a local university’s Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) program. Students can also often choose to earn credit hours for this degree online, though you need to ensure that the courses you complete meet all requirements for your state by either talking to a college program director or the state board for licensure.

These programs provide substance abuse-specific education within several domains (assessment, case management, counseling, client education, etc.). Enrolling in an a bachelor's in counseling or an addiction counseling degree in Idaho may help graduates get a start on their career goals.

Some courses in these types of programs include:

  • Understanding, recognizing, assessing, and treating
  • Professional ethics and issues
  • Theory and counseling coursework

Students seeking eligibility for the CADC should take courses for the Idaho Student of Addiction Studies. They will also need three years of work experience working with clients struggling with substance abuse issues. Other possible careers include mental health counseling, where they may work with clients who have co-occurring disorders, which may lead to substance abuse, and more.

Master's Degree in Addiction Counseling (MS or MC)

Graduate students working to become addiction counselors in Idaho may decide to enroll in the MA in Counseling: Addiction Counseling Cognate or other similar programs in the state or online.

As a student works to become an addiction counselor in Idaho, they learn how to work with families and individuals who are affected by addictive behaviors and substance abuse. Before students earn their graduate degrees, they will learn how to assess, treat, and focus on relapse prevention with their clients. Earning this degree in the state requires the student to complete 60 credit hours with 1,000 direct contact hours of supervised experience. Again, students completing online programs from out of state should be very careful that the program they complete includes everything needed by the state licensure department.

Students may offer substance abuse counseling services in a clinic, community agency, or in private practice. Other professional work settings may include residential recovery facilities; some may be co-ed, while others may offer services only to women or only men. They may also work for public or private hospitals. Some counselors may work in methadone clinics, offering counseling while clients work to recover from opioid addictions. Other counselors may work for school districts. There are many options.

PhD Degree in Addiction Counseling (PhD)

Professionals who are planning to earn their doctoral degree in addiction counseling must meet the education requirements established by the state of Idaho.

In the program, students should be prepared to complete counseling theories and counseling skills courses, supervise counselors and counseling students, teach specific courses, evaluate counselor education programs and sites, and have knowledge of ethical and professional issues in the counseling field.

A PhD in Counselor Education and Counseling prepares graduates to work in counselor education programs; doctoral level counselors prepare to work in university counseling centers or other counseling locations once they have completed professional licensure requirements.

Become an Addiction Counselor in Idaho


The National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NCC AP) is responsible for standardizing the quality of various counseling and care services for clients in need of intervention.

This certification commission has established three foundational credentials for addiction counselors. These are:

  • National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level 1

    This certification is for counselors who hold their GED, high school diploma, or a college degree and current license as a substance use disorder/ addiction counselor or professional counselor — Mental health counseling, social work, marriage and family therapist or LAP-C Training and examinations should also include at least six hours of ethics education and training, taken within the past six years. They will also need to take and pass at least six hours of HIV or other pathogen education and training within the past six years.

    They must all earn a passing score on one of the following two exams:

    • NCAC Level One examination (taken through NCC AP)
    • AOC exam (taken through the International Certifications & Reciprocity Consortium)
  • Master Addiction Counselor

    Must hold a master’s degree (or higher) in substance use disorders or addiction and/or other related counseling subjects such as mental health counseling or marriage and family therapist from an institution holding regional accreditation. They must hold a current license or credential as one of the above, or as a Professional Counselor I (mental health, social worker, psychologist or marriage and family therapist).

    To obtain this licensure, the Master Addiction Counselor must also have six hours of ethics training, obtained within the past six years and six hours of HIV or other pathogenic training from within the past six years.

    They must all have earned passing scores on one of these exams:

    • Master Addiction Counselor (taken through NCC AP)
    • eMAC exam (from the National Board of Certified Counselors)
    • AADC exam (from the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium)
  • National Clinical Supervision Endorsement
    To qualify for this endorsement, the professional should have a bachelor’s degree or higher in either substance use disorders or addiction and/or related counseling areas (psychology, social work, mental health counseling) from a regionally accredited university. They must also have a current credential or license in one of the above. This credential must have been issued by a state or credentialing authority within the past five years.

Careers for Addiction Counseling Graduates


  • Geriatric Counselor

    Geriatric counselors work with older adults who may experience age-specific challenges as they grow older. This counselor knows that individuals in this age group experience physical and mental effects that make their aging process more difficult to handle.

    For example, as adults grow older, they may begin to experience symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Because these conditions cause so many issues for family members, the counselor may work with them as well. Older people may also experience losses in their visual and verbal memories, immediate memory, vision, hearing, and even body strength, which can cause distress for those who are unprepared to handle these shifts in their lives and abilities.

  • Child Counselor

    Child counselors work with children who may be experiencing mental or emotional issues. They perform assessments and may offer diagnoses. They may treat children with emotional, social, or mental disorders ranging from mild to severe.

    Child counselors work with the children and their families, showing them that the child can be happy and achieve success in their daily lives and that children with mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders can still reach their developmental milestones with help. In working with a child, they may develop an individualized treatment plan for them.

  • Military Counselor

    Military counselors work with members of the military by providing clinical mental health counseling to them. The military wants to ensure the good health of its personnel and this often means maintaining the good mental health of all military branches.

    Members of the military may seek out treatment for a variety of reasons such as anger management, depression, anxiety, or problems with substance abuse. Military counselors are intimately familiar with the stresses of the military culture. Soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines have been committing suicide in numbers that are still increasing. Military counselors may also train officers and commanders how to recognize signs of emotional or mental distress in their troops.

  • Residential Counselor

    Residential counselors work with groups of people who live in rehabilitation centers, shelters, or even assisted living facilities. They may work with the residential clients on their daily needs (meal preparation, housekeeping, and grooming). The counselors also provide companionship and emotional support to residents who are having a hard time coping.

    Residential counselors should possess a high level of emotional intelligence. Strong interpersonal skills help them interact with clients who may be having difficulty with their emotions. Being passionate about serving others who need their help is a big plus.

    Throughout their day, they supervise residents and make sure they are safe, offer community resources to the residents, and work as a member of a team to ensure that all residents experience the best quality of life possible.

  • Grief Counselor

    “There is no right way to grieve. And there is no set time for grieving. It takes as long as it takes.” Grief counselors know this, and they work to communicate it to their clients who have suffered a significant loss in their lives. This may be through divorce, a job loss, or losing a beloved family member.

    Grief counselors work with their clients to develop coping strategies. They may also have to fulfill additional requirements so they can help their clients learn to adjust to their loss. A Master of Arts in Counseling may help them to reach their career goal.

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