Congratulations on reaching a significant milestone in your career journey by becoming a CADTP Registered SUD Counselor!

Your dedication to helping those struggling with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) has already made a positive impact, and we commend your commitment to this vital field. However, we believe there’s an even greater achievement awaiting you, one that will elevate your expertise and open up new opportunities for professional growth.

In this blog post, we will delve into the essential aspects of moving from being a Registered SUD Counselor to attaining SUD Certification. We understand that the journey towards certification may seem like a daunting task, but rest assured, the rewards are well worth the effort. By taking this important step, you will not only enhance your knowledge and skills but also gain recognition and credibility as a certified professional in the field of Substance Use Disorder counseling.

The SUD Counselor certification signifies that you have met the rigorous standards set forth by industry experts, validating your competence and dedication to providing the best possible care. Make sure to download the official document CADTP Candidate Handbook for the Substance Use Disorder Certified Counselor Application and Examination.

Thank you for the remarkable work you do every day. Let’s take the next step together and unlock the true potential of your SUD counseling career.

1. Register with CADTP as an SUDRC

If you are already Registered, this step is already in your history book! However, if you are just getting started, this step is the first step to take to receive your SUDRC. Registration is open to anyone with a desire to become an SUD Counselor and help those seeking recovery from substance abuse. However, you must be 18 years old or over to be a Registered Counselor.

CADTP is one of three agencies certified by the California DHCS to issue and manage credentials for SUD Counselors practicing in any modality. Registration requirements are consistent across all certification agencies in California.

To Register as an SUD Counselor with CADTP, you will need the following:

Important Note: Once you are registered, you will have up to a maximum of five (5) years to complete the remaining requirements, with the exception of a personal hardship where you may request an extension of an additional two (2) years.

2. Complete the Education Requirements to become an SUDCC.

The official Candidate document states that you must:

Complete a minimum of 315 hours of formal classroom education in the areas specified in the California regulations (Section 13040). The education should be obtained in a program approved in the regulations. Any other education must be obtained at an accredited post-secondary institution and must be pre-approved by CADTP.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the educational requirement and answer some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

1. Can you take the Education/Classroom requirements online?

Education can be completed online or in a classroom from an accredited college or post-secondary school.

2. What are the areas specified in the California Reguations (Section 13040)?
(1) The curriculum contained in “Addiction Counseling Competencies: The Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes of Professional Practice”, Technical Assistance Publication Series 21 (TAP 21), published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Reprinted 2002;
(2) Provision of services to special populations such as aging individuals; individuals with co-occurring disorders (e.g., alcoholism and mental illness); individuals with post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]); individuals with disabilities; diverse populations; individuals with cultural differences, individuals on probation/parole, etc.;
(3) Ethics;
(4) Communicable diseases including tuberculosis, HIV disease, and Hepatitis C; and
(5) Prevention of sexual harassment; (reference) 

3. Where can I find CADTP approved SUD education providers?

Search a directory a CADTP approved SUD Education Providers here. CADTP Approved SUD Education Providers

3. Completed the Required Work Experience to Achieve SUDCC.

The official Candidate documents states:

  1. Complete 255 hours of documented “supervised” training in an alcohol or other drug (SUD) setting (effective for initial registrations on or after 11/1/2021) (see regulations for more detail).
  2. Complete an additional 2,080 hours or more of paid or unpaid counseling services in an SUD program.
  3. This experience can be obtained prior to, after, or at the same time as the education and supervised training required above.

Download the SUD Counseling Work Experience Verification to start tracking your work experience requirements.

4. Submit an Application to Sit for the Certification Exam.

The following requirements must be completed prior to sitting for the exam. To be eligible for the exam you must meet all requirements below.

    • Exam candidates must have registered for certification with CADTP as Substance Use Disorder Registered Counselor (SUDRC) prior to applying for the exam and certification. Registrants must be in good standing with no pending disciplinary actions.
    • An official transcript from an accredited, state university, community college, or post-secondary institution,
      which documents the successful completion of at least 315 formal classroom hours of alcohol and/or drug-related education (see Academic Content Areas). Official means sealed originals. No unsealed transcripts,copies, faxes, or emails from applicants will be accepted. Emails directly from a college official may be accepted.
    • Documentation of at least two hundred and fifty-five (255) hours of supervised training as a substance use disorder counselor (effective for initial registrations on or after 11/1/2021).
    • Documentation of completion of at least two thousand and eighty (2,080) hours of paid or unpaid experience as a substance use disorder counselor.

If you have made it this far, Congratulations!

Download the Exam Application here: Applications for Examination and Certification

Submit a payment of $350.00 with this application. $175 is for the non-refundable exam fee and $175 is for the non-refundable certification fee. You may pay by check, money order, cashier’s check, Visa, or MasterCard.

To pay by credit card visit the Payment Portal on the CADTP website at You may also submit your application and documents with your payment on the portal or mail your application and documents to the CADTP office.

Please keep in mind that all requirements stated in the application are required. Incomplete applications or missing documentation will result in the exam application being rejected.

5. Pass the Certification Exam.

Once you apply for the exam, you will receive a date, time, and location to take the exam. Once you take the exam, one of two things will happen.

1. You passed the exam. Congratulations! Your Certification as an SUDCC counselor will be automatically mailed to you.

2. You did not pass the exam. Don’t worry and don’t get discouraged! You can take the exam again in 90-days. You are not alone! Consider joining a test-prep class or going online to discover additional resources to help you study and pass the next time you take the exam.

6. Receive Your SUDCC Certification.

Congratulations are in order for embarking on the journey to becoming a certified Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Counselor in California. By completing the registration process and meeting all the necessary requirements, you have demonstrated your commitment to excellence in the field of addiction counseling. Your dedication and hard work have paid off, and you are now equipped with the tools and knowledge to make a significant impact on the lives of individuals struggling with substance use disorders.

Attaining certification as an SUD Counselor opens up a world of possibilities for your career. Not only does it validate your expertise and professionalism, but it also signifies your commitment to providing quality care to those in need. As a certified counselor, you join a community of compassionate professionals who are dedicated to helping individuals overcome addiction, regain control of their lives, and build a brighter future.

With your certification, you have gained an invaluable edge in the field. Employers, treatment facilities, and other professionals recognize the significance of this achievement, making you a highly sought-after asset. Your increased knowledge, specialized skills, and demonstrated proficiency will set you apart from others and enhance your career prospects. You will have opportunities to work in diverse settings, collaborate with interdisciplinary teams, and contribute to innovative approaches in addiction treatment.

Furthermore, as a certified SUD Counselor, you will continue to grow and evolve in your profession. The field of addiction counseling is constantly evolving, and staying certified demonstrates your commitment to ongoing professional development. Engaging in continuing education, attending conferences, and staying up-to-date with the latest research and evidence-based practices will ensure that you are providing the most effective and comprehensive care to your clients.

As you embark on this new chapter of your career, remember the significance of the work you do. Each life you touch, each person you guide toward recovery, has the potential to transform not only their own existence but also the lives of their loved ones. Your dedication to helping individuals break free from the shackles of addiction is truly commendable.

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Dr. Jessica Rodriguez

Dr. Rodriguez was named the Executive Director of Gateway Corp in 2012.  Gateway Corp was developed as a non-profit, public charity and founded October 27, 2011. November 2014, she developed a clinical hub for Gateway Corp called OnSite Strategies. OnSite is also a United States Trademark.

She has held the position of CEO, Clinical Director, Lead Educator and Clinical Trainer as well as the Clinical Business Developer. She has fulfilled the roles of a clinical consultant, professional development consultant and has clinically supervised many SUD/addiction counselors, mental health professionals and addiction and family interventionists for over 12 years.

She has been active in the mental health field since 1995. She has also clinically trained throughout the US and provides clinical oversight for several organizations in California.

Dr. Rodriguez released her first book, “When the Rainbow Ends a Shadow from Heaven Appears" in 2017.” Her newest book, "The Cart, From Adversity to Collateral Beauty" is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2022.

Dr. Rodriguez is currently a writer for Rapporteur Magazine. Her focus is about Mental Wellness also covered topics to include ACE's, trauma, anxiety, and Systemic Racism.

Adriana Popescu, Ph.D.

Dr. Adriana Popescu is a licensed clinical psychologist and empowerment coach with over 25 years of experience in the mental health field. She specializes in treating addictions and trauma, and has directed a number of treatment programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the Founder and CEO of Firebird Healing, a trauma healing program, and the Clinical Director at Avery Lane, an innovative and holistic treatment program for women with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders and trauma.

Adriana has contributed to a number of books, including TJ Woodward's Conscious Being Workbook, the Conscious Recovery for Addiction and Conscious Recovery for Mental Health Workbooks, and the Conscious Creation Workbook, all of which she co-authored with him.

She has a private practice in San Francisco and travels around the world speaking, coaching, and facilitating transformational and empowering workshops. She also hosts a fascinating podcast called Kaleidoscope of Possibilities – Alternative Perspectives on Mental Health.

Adriana loves to bring the most innovative and effective tools to her work, empowering people to overcome their imagined limitations, release their self-judgments, and discover the brilliance within – creating a life of infinite possibilities.

Her first book, “What If You’re Not as F*cked Up As You Think”, was released in October.

Aven Armstrong-Sutton, Ph.D(c), RSW

Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services

Aven L. Armstrong-Sutton has been a practicing licensed social worker for over a decade. With diverse experience in settings such as health promotion, foster care, youth homelessness, outpatient mental health & addictions, and student support services, Aven currently serves as a Clinical Services Manager at Kinark Child and Family Services, managing a Live-In-Treatment Program and three outpatient treatment programs. Maintaining a part-time private practice, Aven’s multidisciplinary and integrative approach focuses on trauma and resilience among under-served communities.

June Price Tangney, Ph.D

Dr. Tangney received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UCLA. She is currently University Professor and Professor of Psychology at George Mason. She is a Recipient of International Society for Self and Identity’s Distinguished Lifetime Career Award and Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science and of APA’s Division of Personality and Social Psychology.

Dr. Tangney is coauthor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame and Guilt, coeditor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame in the Therapy Hour, coeditor (with Jess Tracy and Richard Robins) of The self-conscious emotions: Theory and research, and coeditor (with Mark Leary) of the Handbook of Self and Identity. She has served as Associate Editor for Self and Identity, Consulting Editor for Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Psychological Assessment, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, and Journal of Personality, and is currently Associate Editor of American Psychologist.

Her research on the development and implications of moral emotions has been funded by NIDA, NICHD, NSF, and the John Templeton Foundation. Currently, her work focuses on moral emotions among incarcerated offenders. She draws on theory and research in psychology and criminology to develop novel interventions that leverage inmates’ moral emotions and prosocial values. A recipient of GMU’s Teaching Excellence Award, Dr. Tangney strives to integrate service, teaching and clinically-relevant research in both the classroom and her lab.

Christina Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN

Founder and Director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition

Christina T. Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN, is the founder and director of the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition, which teaches practitioners around the world how to use diet, along with amino acid and nutrient therapy, to help prevent cravings and recurrent drug use. She has been a licensed psychotherapist working in the SUD treatment field since 1985 and a certified nutritionist specializing in mental health and addiction recovery since 1993.

Sean Bezdek, LMFT, MBA

Sean is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 25 years of experience working in mental health and substance abuse settings, in inpatient, PHP, and private practice. He holds b a master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy from Philips Institute and an MBA from Baker College.

Sean’s clinical practice has specialized in working with Personality Disorders, Couples, Adolescents, and individual suffering from chronic mental illness. As a clinician Sean enjoys working with clients who can be resistant to traditional treatment and believes in the philosophy of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. BUT you can feed them saltines to make them thirsty!”

Sean is the Program Director for Akua Mind Body’s Sacramento inpatient mental health program. His prior leadership experience includes oversight of acute inpatient, utilization management, hospice/palliative care, home health and skilled nursing. Sean’s approach to management is to ensure the work that needs to get done gets done. “Our job is patient care. This include everything from making coffee to running groups. There is not one person who is more important that the other when it comes to providing exceptional care to the clients we serve.”