Illinois Offers Funding for Training and Certification of Substance Use Counselors

Investment will help the one in six Illinoisans struggling with substance use disorder

A new partnership between the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and the Illinois Certification Board (ICB) is removing barriers for individuals who want to become certified to help people struggling with substance use disorders. 

This partnership will address the ongoing behavioral health workforce shortage and continue to sustain a recovery-oriented system of care for individuals and families across Illinois affected by substance use disorder.

“We know this time of year can be especially challenging for those struggling to recover from a substance use disorder,” said Laura Garcia, Director of the IDHS Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery. “The CADC Workforce Expansion Program will increase the number of professionals entering and remaining in our substance use treatment network.”

The CADC Workforce Expansion Program is a new initiative to support individuals seeking their Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) credential in Illinois. Individuals currently enrolled in an ICB Accredited Training Program wishing to enter Illinois’ substance use services field can receive tuition payments, scholarships, internship stipends, and certification-related payments to obtain their CADC.

“We know a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor can make a monumental impact on someone struggling with substance use. This funding will remove barriers for people who want to become certified and be a part of the solution here in our state,” said Chris Boyster, Illinois Certification Board Executive Director.

Substance use disorder affects more than 1.5 million Illinoisans annually and statistics show that having a resource like a CADC available significantly increases the chances of recovery.  

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, drug overdose deaths rose by over 5% in 2022. This program increases the behavioral health workforce, providing critical professional training and certification to implement overdose prevention efforts and increase substance use treatment and recovery supports.

The CADC Workforce Expansion Program also offers assistance with job placement, credential renewal, continuing education, and other incentives to reduce barriers to education and workforce participation.

“It was only through my counselor believing in me when I didn’t even believe in myself, that I took a look at my life and decided that she only wanted me to get better and that she was willing and ready to help and guide me to fulfill my dreams, goals, and aspirations,” said Timothy O’Boyle, a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor who is in recovery from substance use disorder himself.

CADCs are trained and certified professionals who understand the complexities of substance use disorders and effective treatment approaches. They can provide evidence-based guidance tailored to an individual’s specific needs.

CADCs offer emotional and psychological support, which is crucial during the challenging recovery journey. They can help individuals address the underlying issues contributing to substance use disorder, manage cravings, and develop healthy coping strategies.

In addition, IDHS’s Certified Recovery Support Specialist and Certified Peer Recovery Specialist programs create pathways for people in recovery to earn the credentials needed to be professional peer-support specialists.

For more information on becoming a CADC and the funding support available, visit


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