The Certified Addiction Counselor credential is one of several certifications offered by the nonprofit Florida Certification Board (FCB). Other boards in other states offer analogous certifications. FCB-certified addiction counselors and addiction professionals are involved in patient care, where they help clinicians devise treatment plans for substance use disorders, administer some services and take part in case management and professional and educational activities.
Stigma often surrounds the use of terms such as addiction, dependence and substance abuse. In recent years, related medical terminology has been changed and clarified. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the official guide for diagnosing behavioral disorders, had in its fourth edition (DSM IV) the classifications “substance abuse” and “substance dependence.” That classification was reconsidered for a variety of reasons, including the fact that several studies showed that the assumptions about substance abuse and dependence did not hold true, the stratification “orphaned” some people who had a serious issue but did not meet the criteria for either diagnosis, substance dependence was often confused with physical dependence and the word “abuse” had negative connotations about patients.
In Florida, the nonprofit Florida Certification Board (FCB) is the only organization that currently provides certification for addiction professionals. Under state law, board-administered credentials such as the Certified Addiction Professional (CAP) qualify individuals to work in a clinical setting. While training and certification requirements for substance use disorder counselors (also called substance abuse counselors) and other addiction professionals vary from state to state, the CAP credential can open new professional opportunities for eligible candidates in the field of addiction.
The legalization of marijuana has been a topic of debate in the U.S. since the Great Depression. During the economic desperation of that period, public opinion regarding the drug became increasingly negative, which resulted in states taking concerted regulatory action. But in recent years, public sentiment regarding marijuana has shifted, with several states moving to legalize it for recreational or medical use or decriminalize it by easing some punishments previously associated with possession or use.
Since the expansion of health insurance benefits to millions more Americans under the Affordable Care Act, more individuals in need of treatment for substance use disorders have been able to start on the path to recovery. This coincides with an ongoing opioid epidemic that has led to almost 50,000 overdose deaths in 2017, more than four times the number seen a decade and a half earlier, according to the National Institutes of Health. These new trends mean that many more qualified, knowledgeable personnel are needed to help treat this new wave of persons affected by opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders.