International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium

Candidate Guide

An AADC 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. 


Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (AADC) 

Advancing the Profession & Your Career

Adopted in 1999, the Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (AADC) is one of the largest credentials in the field of addiction-related behavioral health care – totaling over 5,000 professionals worldwide. There are now 26 countries, U.S. states, and territories that offer a reciprocal AADC credential.

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.”

As the profession grows, the need for Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselors will keep pace. Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselors hold a Master’s degree or higher in a behavioral health field. They have a thorough understanding of not only substance use disorders but also co-occurring mental health disorders. AADCs are expected to be able to use the latest evidence-based practice for treating both substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders in tandem. 

The Advanced 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 Advanced 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.

AADC Domains

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

Changes to the AADC Exam

On May 11, 2015 IC&RC updated its Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) examination. Changes to the examination include

  • Emphasis on identifying, diagnosing, and/or treating co-occurring substance use, mental health, and physical health disorders
  • Deletion of the Clinical Supervision and Research Design, Analysis & Utilization domains
  • Combining the remaining eight domains into four essential domains
  • Inclusion of DSM-5 diagnostic criteria
  • Providing services in a trauma-informed manner
  • Utilizing technological advances in service delivery
  • Utilizing various treatment modalities including but not limited to Medication Assisted Treatment

The full exam content outline, updated reference list, and recommended study guides can be found here

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