Get Certified

**Effective 02/20/2020: All registration and certification documents issued by the ACCBC office must reflect the full legal government name of the counselor. **

PLEASE NOTE: Certification renewal is the responsibility of each certified individual – the ACCBC does not send out renewal notices. We do not expedite applications under any circumstances. Please be sure to submit applications at least thirty (30) calendar days prior to expiration, because processing time takes up to 30 days. Applications that are incomplete when submitted, due to the applicant not including all required documentation, can be delayed longer than 30 days. Please plan accordingly to account for the processing time. Renewal Applications will not be accepted more than sixty (60) calendar days prior to expiration.

This situation best describes me:

I was formerly certified with the ACCBC, I currently hold unexpired certification with another DHCS approved certifying organization (CO), and I want to reinstate my ACCBC certification. Certification Reinstatement is ONLY for individuals that were certified with CAADE’s ACCBC prior to loss of accreditation on 12/01/2017, now hold current certification with another CO, and wish to return to ACCBC.  Reinstatement is a one-time process. For individuals previously certified by Breining Institute, please contact the ACCBC office at office@accbc.org or 1-562-304-5261.  (Please refer to Pages 26-28 of the ACCBC Candidate Handbook for details)


I was formerly certified with the ACCBC, my certification is now expired, and I want to renew my ACCBC certification. For individuals previously certified by Breining Institute, please contact the ACCBC office at office@accbc.org or 1-562-304-5261.


I have met the Initial CATC Certification eligibility requirements (including passing the CATC Exam and completing the required 2,240 clinical experience hours) and I am ready to become initially certified with the ACCBC. Please review the CATC Certification Eligibility Requirements detailed below.

If you have never been certified with the ACCBC; and currently hold unexpired certification with, or were previously certified with, another DHCS approved certifying organization (CO); and you want to transfer that certification to the ACCBC, you will first need to go through the Education Equivalency Evaluation Process. There is no direct transfer of certification in this scenario.  (Please refer to Pages 26-28 of the ACCBC Candidate Handbook for details) 


CATC Certification Eligibility

All candidates for certification must meet all eligibility requirements established by the ACCBC in effect at the time of application for certification. Candidates cannot earn certification without passing the CATC Exam. No other exam is accepted in lieu of the CATC Exam.

Eligibility Requirements

The following steps must be completed to earn CATC (I, II, III, IV, V, N) initial certification:

1. Education:

Option 1: Completion of an accredited and approved Community College or post-secondary  Alcohol and Other Drug Studies/Addiction Studies (AOD/ADS)program that is at least 30 semester units in length and that is designed to meet Federal TAP 21 guidelines. For a list of approved programs, please refer to https://dev.caade.org/accreditation-of-colleges-career-track-programs/accreditedaodprograms/.

Option 2: (People who choose Option 2 must first be approved through the Education Equivalency Evaluation Process.) Completion of all of the following addiction specific core coursework either as part of, or in addition to, the applicant’s degree:

  1. Drugs and Society – 3 Semester Units
  2. Physiological Effects of Drugs and Alcohol/Pharmacology of Drugs and Alcohol – 3 Semester Units
  3. Addiction and the Family/Family Dynamics of Abuse – 3 Semester Units
  4. Intervention, Treatment and Recovery (Treatment of Substance Abuse—clinical focus) – 3 Semester Units
  5. Co-Occurring Disorders – 3 Semester Units
  6. Group Process/Group Counseling – 3 Semester Units
  7. Laws and Ethics (must be specific to addiction counseling) – 3 Semester Units
  8. AOD specific Fieldwork /Practicum – 6 Semester Units

2. EXAM: Passing score of at least 70% on the CATC Exam, as evidenced by the CATC Examination Score Report, which is a hard copy document given to candidates by the exam proctor immediately following the CATC Exam. No other exam will be accepted in lieu of the CATC Exam. To apply to take the CATC Exam, applicants must submit the Exam Eligibility Application, which is available on the ACCBC website here.

3. EXPERIENTIAL REQUIREMENTS: Proof of at least 2,240 hours of supervised clinical/ field experience hours documented on the ACCBC Summary of Hours Form.

Supervised clinical work experience requirements:

  1. Experience may include volunteer or paid experience in the field dating back to the first day the applicant became registered with a DHCS approved certifying organization. Hours cannot be counted during any period your registration was lapsed or expired, or before you first held registration.
  2. Experience hours must be completed in a DHCS licensed and/or certified drug/alcohol treatment center or facility. Practicum/fieldwork hours can count toward the total 2,240 hours, as long as the hours meet all other requirements.
  3. Experience hours must be acquired by providing AOD counseling services, defined as the following: Evaluating participants’, patients’, or residents’ AOD treatment or recovery needs, including screening prior to admission, intake, and assessment of need for services at the time of admission; Developing and updating of a treatment or recovery plan; Implementing the treatment or recovery plan; Continuing assessment and treatment planning; Conducting individual counseling sessions, group counseling sessions, face-to-face interviews, or counseling for families, couples, and other individuals significant in the life of the participants, patients, or residents; and Documenting counseling activities, assessment, treatment and recovery planning, clinical reports related to treatment provided, progress notes, discharge summaries, and all other client related data.(Overnight tech; driving clients; leading 12 step meetings – are not considered AOD counseling services)
  4. Hours must be documented on the ACCBC Summary of Hours Form(s) by the applicant’s supervisor(s) verifying the dates of supervision, number of supervised hours, facility name(s), facility address(es), and counselor experiential functions.
  5. Supervisors must be certified alcohol/drug treatment counselors or licensed professionals, which may be (but are not limited to): Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC), Medical Doctor (MD).
  6. You cannot complete more than 2,080 hours in a one (1) calendar year period. Hours cannot be completed in less than fourteen (14) months.

4. APPLICATION: Submission of a complete Initial CATC (I, II, III, IV, V, N) Certification Application

Please refer to the ACCBC Application Processing Time Policy for processing time information, and the ACCBC Application and Document Submission Policy regarding application submission (please see page 66 of the CATC Handbook regarding the aforementioned policies).

5. REFERENCES: Three (3) letters of recommendation from three (3) different individuals. Reference letters must be typed and in formal letter format; emails will not be accepted as letters. Letters must include signature of author with author’s contact information. Letters must be from three different individuals and may not be written family members.

6. FEE: Payment of non-refundable Initial CATC (I, II, III, IV, V, N) Certification fee of $185.00. Payment for Initial Certification can be made here. CAADE membership is not required for certification.

ACCBC Career Ladder

The honorary CATC (I, II, III, IV, V, N) tiered system is designed to signify your higher level of education to employers and clients. The education requirements (in addition to the minimum AOD specific core coursework) for each honorary CATC tier level are as follows:

CATC – Counselor has met the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification.

CATC I – Counselor has a Certificate of Completion from a thirty (30) semester unit (minimum) approved Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD)/Addiction Studies or Alcohol and Drug Studies (ADS) Community College Program .

CATC II  – Counselor has an Associate Degree, in addition to meeting the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification. Degree must be from a regionally accredited college/university and must be in Addiction Studies or a related behavioral health/behavioral science field.

CATC III – Counselor has a Bachelor’s Degree, in addition to meeting the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification. Degree must be from a regionally accredited college/university and must be in Addiction Studies or a related behavioral health/behavioral science field.

CATC IV – Counselor has a Master’s Degree, in addition to meeting the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification. Degree must be from a regionally accredited college/university and must be in Addiction Studies or a related behavioral health/behavioral science field.

CATC V – Counselor has a Doctoral Degree, in addition to meeting the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification. Degree must be from a regionally accredited college/university and must be in Addiction Studies or a related behavioral health/behavioral science field.

CATC N – Counselor has a Nursing Degree, in addition to meeting the minimum ACCBC and DHCS requirements for AOD certification. Degree must be from a regionally accredited college/university and must be in Addiction Studies or a related behavioral health/behavioral science field.

Education Equivalency Evaluation : With respect to meeting California Code of Regulations requirements for Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification, and recognizing the value of work experience, and to create a pathway for all demographics who wish to become certified addiction treatment counselors, the ACCBC has developed an equivalency and career track policy for candidates who have not completed their Alcohol and Drug/Addiction Studies coursework at an accredited and approved Community College or post-secondary institution.

The Education Equivalency Evaluation process is used to independently evaluate the education received by an applicant in order to verify that it meets the educational requirements set by the ACCBC for CATC Certification. If an Education Equivalency Application is approved, the applicant may move forward in the certification process by applying to take the CATC Exam, and upon successful passing of the CATC Exam, can then apply for Initial CATC Certification. No other exam is accepted in lieu of the CATC Exam.

Addiction Counselor Certification Board of California

4182 N. Viking Way Suite 213, Long Beach, CA 90808

Phone: 1-562-304-5261    Email: office@accbc.org    Website: www.accbc.org