How To Become A Certified Addiction Specialist

How To Become A Certified Addiction Specialist?

Working in the addiction field may be nerve-wracking but to be qualified for it may be tougher. One of the known competent professionals in this field is the Certified Addiction Specialists (CAS). Are you up for the challenge? Just keep your eyes glued here and you will be guided on how to become a CAS!

Represents a Certified Addiction Specialist
Image Credits: Wallpaperflare

Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS) is actually quite an interesting credential. Why? Because it specializes in treating five categories of addiction namely alcoholism, sex, drugs, gambling, and eating disorders.

From the title itself, they are indeed good at their craft. CAS also does scientific researches in the hopes of providing a more advanced and better quality of treating different addiction disorders.

Despite the stigma that’s going on around, they are the ones who skillfully assess and help people in treating addiction.  

Do you aspire to become a Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS)? Then, the first thing you need to consider is if you are qualified or not. Checking the requirements will help you determine if you are eligible enough for the said credential.

CAS Eligibility and Conditions

A picture that depicts education. Degrees to be earned for Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS).
Image Credits: Wallpaperflare

1. With Master’s or Doctorate Degree

Firstly, if you are a health care professional with a Master’s or Doctorate degree, then this information is for you. Put in mind that either degree must be related to mental health. Primarily, you must have at least three years (6,000 hours) of experience. These years consist of giving health care services on addictive disorders while under supervision. Although, three years may be long consider it as a key for more learning and self-improvement!

2. Other Degree or Non-degree Holder

Secondly, professionals who acquired other degrees or were not able to get one are still allowed to apply for CAS so no biggie! However, you must have five years (10,000 hours) with the same supervised experience as aforementioned. Aside from that, documentation of your formal education and training with a total of 270 hours shall be submitted.

Experiential Requirements

The 270-hour documentation is divided into different areas. This includes all your education and training done. The next information will help you specify and check if you were able to meet the required hours in a particular area.

Two men in a learning and training session as a requirement for CAS.
Image Credits: PickPik

First, your training on counseling competencies including the skills, attitude, and knowledge regarding the said practice should be 120 hours.

Next, 60 hours of training/education is required for every specialization in the five addiction categories. Those categories aforementioned were sex, gambling and drug addiction, alcoholism, and eating disorders. Lastly, a total of 30 hours from different health care services and education in particular areas like ethics, communicable diseases, and sexual harassment.

Furthermore, three professional recommendations are needed. Those recommendations must be from credible people or professionals who are familiar with your work and capabilities.

In addition to that, one referent is needed from your clinical supervisor. This particular supervisor must be able to document your experience as a health care provider.

Finally, your desired credential is at your reach since you are eligible enough to apply for it! Your application will be evaluated. You may take the certification examination once your application has successfully met all the necessary requirements.

You will receive a mail of notification once your request and application have been approved.

An icon representing a mail. This will be a notification for eligible CAS applicants.
Image Credits: Max Pixel

Make a mental note that from the registration to processing your application and until the examination, the fees are all your responsibility.

Being in health care services can be draining. Due to the pressure and demands, you also need to look after your well-being. Being good health will lead to your best self who could offer better and quality service. 

Comprehensive Examination

You will take a comprehension exam after you passed the experiential requirements. This exam will test your knowledge of the fundamentals of treating addiction. However, it will not just about the difficulty of the exam, but an assessment if you are really prepared for the certification exam.

CAS Certification Examination

Next, this exam will determine if you can get your credential or not. This exam will be the Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS) exam. Thus, taking a comprehensive exam is a requisite for you to be able to take the certification exam. If you were able to pass it then it will not be that hard for the certification exam especially if you aced it!

Person using a laptop. CAS exam will be taken and proctored online.
Image Credits: Wallpaperflare

To add, the exam will be 150 items. It will be taken and proctored online. The questions in the exam are about the five main domains of treatment, guidelines and protocols, and specialized training or practice. Moreover, the main domains that will be in the exam are the following:

Aside from that, the examination will also cover the specialty areas aforementioned.

There are only two and a half hours for you to finish the exam, it may be online but remember, it is still proctored. Plus, the schedule will be given right after your application has been approved and reviewed. So, better grab your notes and books and review them for it!

Results and Certification

You will be notified of the results of the exam two weeks from the examination date. Yet, if you failed the exam, don’t worry because you can still retake it. Hence, another confirmation and opportunity will be given to you. However, re-take of the exam means another fee.

There, with this in mind, you better re-assess yourself on how to pass or even ace it the second time around!

On the other hand, once you passed the exam, you will be awarded the certification of Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS). You will receive a letter confirming the certification. The letter includes a certificate to be put on a frame and a certification card all mailed to your given address.

At last, after the long ride from application until the examination, was all worth it. Receiving, getting your certificate framed, having the card wherever you go is just the beginning.


You become a CAS through years of experience and intensive studying. It may take a long time. However, you will have it easier if you graduated with a degree related to mental health. More is better when it comes to experience, hence, justifies the long training hours required.

There is no end in learning, the same goes for this profession. It may be exhausting and difficult along the way. Still, bear in mind that every learning is an opportunity to make someone’s life better.  

Latest posts by Kathleen Langreo (see all)