International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium

Candidate Guide

An ADC Candidate Guide has been developed to provide candidates with guidance for the examination process. It provides information on examination development, administration, content, sample questions and reference lists. 


Alcohol & Drug Counselor (ADC) 

A Credential That Changes Lives & Your Career

“Counselors who treat people with substance use disorders do life-changing work on a daily basis. The diversity of backgrounds and types of preparation can be a strength, provided there is a common foundation from which counselors work. Workforce development is essential to the field of substance use disorder treatment.”

- U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Created in 1981, the Alcohol & Drug Counselor (ADC) is the largest credential in the field of addiction-related behavioral health care – totaling over 20,000 professionals worldwide. There are now more than 63 countries, U.S. states, and territories that offer a reciprocal ADC credential.

The ADC is recognized worldwide as the gold standard for competency in the field. It is written into U.S. state and national practice regulations and insurance legislation.

In its Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has named substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors as one of the fastest growing professions. The number of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors across the country is expected to grow by 21 percent by 2018. The career is attractive, due to stable salaries and prospects for advancement. The government report especially mentions the value of certification: “Becoming certified is voluntary, but having certification may enhance one’s job prospects.”

The Alcohol & Drug Counselor credential is the foundation for working in diverse professional settings where addiction services are provided. A thorough understanding of addiction and the latest evidence-based practices for treatment is the hallmark of a qualified professional. The Alcohol & Drug Counselor credential requires professionals to demonstrate competency through experience, education, supervision, and the passing of a rigorous examination.

The certification is administered on a jurisdiction level by an IC&RC Member Board. Each IC&RC Member Board has unique procedures, requirements, and documents – so specific questions about pursuing an Alcohol & Drug Counselor credential should be directed to your local board. You can find contact information for each IC&RC board, along with the IC&RC credentials offered, in our Member Board Directory. 

Exam Domains

  • Screening, Assessment, and Engagement
  • Treatment Planning, Collaboration, and Referral
  • Counseling
  • Professional and Ethical Responsibilities

Exam Preparation

IC&RC has developed a Candidate Guide, practice exams, and endorsed study guide for professionals preparing for the Alcohol & Drug Counselor Examination. 

More information is available on the Exam Preparation page.

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