State prescription medication particularly in the South

State of Florida Substance Abuse Certification
Elisa Ruales
Liberty University
Substance Abuse Certification
Historically substance abuse has affected all societies, especially in the United States. Estimates show that addiction disorders involve 32 million Americans (James & Gilliland as cited in Capuzzi et, al. 2016). Additionally, the American Psychiatric Association (APA 2013) projects that approximately 8.5% of Americans 18 years or older will meet diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder. For cannabis use disorders, they estimated 1.5%, and about 0.3% for cocaine use disorder (Capuzzi 2016).
In the state of Florida alone, the Florida Department of Children and Families reported over 24,000 individuals who sought treatment for alcohol abuse between 2015 and 2016. Notably, 23,900 of those individuals were ages 18 and up, and 41.3% were aged 35 and up. Heroin, for example, is another problem that has resurged in our entire nation and again Florida is no exception. The numbers are alarming, in 2015 there were 779 deaths heroin-related. Four out of five heroin users began misusing prescription medication particularly in the South Florida area, Palm Beach, which reported 165, Orange County 108, Miami-Dade 92, Broward 80, and Sarasota 68. These numbers are raising fears that heroin will soon brunt the entire state (

It is equally important to mention that substance use and abuse have been linked to a variety of societal issues and problems. These issues may include violence of any form, child abuse, mental health maladies, risks during pregnancy, sexual risks, these are to name a few (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2016 p,5).
The state of Florida’s substance abuse counseling certification offers four different certification. The first one is the Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS), the second one is known as Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC). The higher ones in the tier are the Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) and Master Certified Addiction .
Being a Master student in the counseling field, and being exposed to substance abuse treatment programs as an intern, I have been able to see the need for qualified professionals with proper training to serve this community effectively. On the other hand, I see this as an excellent opportunity to become certified by the state of Florida, since one of my biggest goals in life is to have my counseling practice.
The state of Florida requires different levels of education for each level of certification. To obtain certification as a Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS), interested individuals must first pass a criminal background check. A total of 150 hours training most be achieved in the areas of A;D treatment. Then the applicant needs to achieve the 150 hours by completing the following training hours: Ten hours training in clinical evaluation, five hours should be completed in treatment planning, for referral to other A;D specialists, five hours need to be completed, five hours in Service Coordination, twenty hours in A;D Counseling of Clients, then, in Client and Family Education another five hours must be completed, five hours in Case Documentations, and fifteen hours training in Professional and Ethical Responsibilities. Also, to complete the 150 hours, the applicant must work thirty-seven hours in Understanding Addiction/Treatment Knowledge, thirty-seven hours must be completed in Application to Practice/Professional Readiness, four hours in HIV/AIDS, and two hours in Domestic Violence.

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Part of the education curriculum for The Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) a total of 250 hours of practice in core areas of A;D treatment. These hours are divided by achieving a number of hours in different areas of training. The interested individual needs to work in obtaining the following hours in training: The completion of twenty-five hours in Clinical Evaluation, fifteen in Treatment Planning, then, five hours in Referral to other A;D specialists, five in Service Coordinator, and thirty hours in A;D Counseling Clients. Also, it is required to work ten hours in Client, Family, and Community Education, ten hours in Case Documentation, thirty hours in Ethical Responsibilities, and fifty-seven hours in Understanding Addiction/Treatment Knowledge. To add more, fifty-seven hours in Application to Practice/Professional Readiness must be completed, four hours in HIV/AIDS, and two hours in Domestic Violence. Part of the established requirements states that if the person has a HS diploma or GED, he or she needs to work on their 300 hours of direct supervision. On the other hand, if the individual already has an Associates or a higher degree, the direct supervised hours are shortened to 150. Lastly, three reference letters are required. Also the FCB Code of Ethics must be signed, and pass the Florida specific A;D examination.

In reference to the Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) certification, the training hours needed for the certification are three hundred and fifty in the field of A;D treatment. The 350 training hours are spread by completing thirty-five hours training in Clinical Evaluation, twenty hours training in Treatment Planning. Also training in Referral to other A;D specialists, five hours are required. Then, five hours in Service Coordination, fifty hours in A;D Counseling Clients, and fifteen in Client, Family and Community Education. In addition, fifteen hours need to be completed in Case Documentation, thirty in Professional and Ethical Responsibilities, fifteen hours in Supervision. And to sum up seventy-seven hours in Understanding Addiction/Treatment Knowledge, seventy-seven in Application to Practice/Professional Readiness, four hours in HIV/AIDS, and two hours in Domestic Violence.

The individual interested in the Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS) must work in complying with 2,000 hours training of supervised experience in A;D treatment. Of the 2,000 hours, one hundred hours must be applied towards direct supervision. Three letters of recommendations are needed as well. Lastly, the individual pursuing this certification is mandated to pass the Florida specific A;D examination and sign FCB’s Code of Ethics.

A more demanding certification regarding the total number of hours in A&D treatment is the Certified Addiction Counselor known as (CAC). A total of 6,000 hours must be attain; nevertheless, if the applicant has a graduate level or higher degree, the supervised hours of experience are reduced to 4,000.
The Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) is the highest level compared to the other certifications. The requisites for this level are also exhaustive because the applicant either has a Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science from an Accredited University or College. The certification requests 6,000 hours in supervised A;D experience. However, if the applicant is a graduate with Master’s degree or Ph.D. in the counseling field, the individual will only have to do 4,000 hours.

The individual applying for the CAP certification, if he or she already has a Bachelor’s degree, only needs to earn 300 hours of direct supervision. In case that the person applying for the certification has a Master’s degree or Ph.D. in Counseling, the individual will only need 200 hours of direct supervision. In addition to these requirements, three professional letters of recommendation are needed, sign the FCB Codes of Ethics, and lastly, pass the Florida specific A&D examination (Human Services Resources, 2018)
Earning credentials through the Florida Certification Board requires to pass two exams to become a certified substance abuse counselor. For those applicants who want to be certified as Addiction Counselor (CAC) need to take the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) Alcohol and other Drug Counselor (ADC) exam.

The Florida Certified Addiction Professional Exam is required to be taken for those applying to the (CAP) certification. The applicant can choose not to take the IC & RC ADC exams. By following this route, he or she can earn a reciprocal credential. Likewise, a MCAP applicant will have to take the Florida Certified Master’s Level Addiction Professional Exam. If the applicant aspires to practice in another state, a reciprocal certification is needed. The applicant is mandated to take the IC;RC ADC Exam; although, in the state of Florida it is not required to take the national exam.

The Substance Abuse Certification whether it is CAS, CAP or MCAP is suitable for those who are working or planning to work with a substance abuse related population. The certification is advantageous especially for those individuals working with adolescents or young adult. As Hart ; Ksir (2015) mentioned, during the young stages of life, it is when drug use begins to reach high levels of addiction. Thus, pursuing the Substance Abuse Certification will positively affect my curriculum as a counselor, since I have started working on my practicum and intern hours at a substance abuse treatment facility. Besides, one of the areas I want to expand my expertise is in working with the population as mentioned above.
Practice Standards
The Florida Certification Board (FCB) establishes that certified professionals must abide by their behavior to the highest standards of ethical practice. Within the professional standards, the certified professional should not be involved in any way in discrimination by race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, or religion. Therefore the FCB code of ethical and professional conduct applies to all individuals seeking certification. It is in the best interest for the applicant to adhere and become familiar with the BCB Code to avoid further violations that may have detrimental result in his or her career (FCB, 2014).

Capuzzi, D., ; Stauffer, M. D. (2016). Foundations of addictions counseling (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

Florida Certification Board. (n.d.). Retrieved from Department of Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from, C., ; Ksir, C. (2015). Drugs, society, and human behavior (16th ed.). Boston, MA:
McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 9780078028649
Human Services resource. Retrieved from:, S. (2018). How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Florida | Certification. Retrieved from


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