Registered Addiction Specialist (RAS) Career Track

Breining Institute credentials are held by addiction professionals in 47 U.S. States and 18 countries.

The RAS Credential Career Path for alcohol and other drug / substance use disorders (AOD/SUD) professionals includes four levels, from the entry-level RAS to the advanced Masters (M-RAS) Credential


Formal Education and Clinical Experience:

  • Registered Addiction Specialist (RAS): 155 hours formal AOD education and 2,240 hours clinical experience
  • Advanced Registered Addiction Specialist – Level II (RAS II):
    • AA Degree in healing arts or sciences and 3 years clinical experience; or
    • 450 hours formal AOD education and 5 years clinical experience; or
    • Seven (7) years clinical experience (must have minimum of 155 hours formal AOD education)
  • Advanced Registered Addiction Specialist – Level III (RAS III):
    • BA Degree in healing arts or sciences and 3 years clinical experience; or
    • AA Degree in healing arts or sciences and 5 years clinical experience; or
    • Eight (8) years clinical experience (must have minimum of 155 hours formal AOD education)
  • Masters Level – Registered Addiction Specialist (M-RAS):
    • MA or Doctorate Degree in healing arts or sciences and 3 years clinical experience; or
    • BA Degree in healing arts or sciences and 5 years clinical experience; or
    • Ten (10) years clinical experience (must have minimum of 155 hours formal AOD education)


The qualifying exam for the RAS Credential is the Addiction Counselor Exam or “ACE” Exam, available online daily, which may be accessed by your own computer, tablet or phone. The ACE Exam was developed, reviewed and validated by nationally-recognized subject matter and psychometric experts to test for the necessary skills and knowledge of an addiction professional.

You will only need to pass the ACE Exam one time, and will not need to take it again to upgrade to higher-level RAS Credentials. For example, if you hold the RAS, you will not need to take the ACE to upgrade to the RAS II.

Here is a link to request the ACE Exam: ACE Exam Request Form

Exam Waiver / Reciprocity:

Candidates will NOT be required to take the ACE Exam, if:

  1. Already passed the ACE Exam; or
  2. Already passed the RAS Exam; or
  3. Already passed one of the following alternative acceptable exams:
    • Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATC) Exam, administered by California Association for Alcohol / Drug Educators;
    • National Certified Addiction Counselor (NCAC) Exam, Level I or II, administered by National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC); or
    • Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) or Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) Exam, administered by International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (ICRC).

Documentation of having passed an alternative acceptable exam may be satisfied by submitting a copy of your certificate or license from an agency that requires passing one of those alternative exams as a condition of being awarded the certificate or license (for example, submitting a copy of your NCAC I certification from NAADAC).


ACE Exam sign-up information (includes links to study materials and online tutorial)

RAS Application Packet for All Levels: RAS, RAS II, RAS III or M-RAS

  • No charge to upgrade to higher-level RAS.
  • Includes Exam Waiver / Reciprocity options.
  • No membership dues.
  • Renewal is every 2 years.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

  • Formal AOD education is college level coursework in alcohol and other drugs (AOD) education, as more fully described in the section below, and as documented with transcripts. Continuing education (CE) courses are not considered formal AOD education.
  • Clinical experience may be obtained either as a paid or volunteer worker, in an agency or agencies that provide services related to addictions.
  • Clinical experience must include 160 hours of supervised training.
  • Formal alcohol and other drugs (AOD) education should include the curriculum contained within the Addiction Counseling Competencies, Technical Assistance Publication Series 21 (TAP 21), and will include:
    • Understanding Addiction – includes understanding theories of addiction, recognizing social and cultural factors within which addiction exists, behavioral and physical effects of psychoactive substances, and recognition of potential for substance abuse disorders to co-exist with other medical and psychological disorders.
    • Treatment Knowledge – includes philosophies and practices of generally accepted models of treatment, recovery, relapse prevention and continuing care for addiction, the importance of family and community systems in the treatment and recovery process, recognizing the importance of ongoing study in clinical practice, and understanding of multidisciplinary, non-traditional or various approaches to addiction treatment.
      • Communicable Diseases – includes tuberculosis, HIV disease and Hepatitis C.
    • Application to Practice – includes understanding diagnostic criteria for addiction treatment and placement, providing the appropriate treatment in consideration of a client’s personal and cultural background situation, and familiarity with the acceptable range of medical and pharmacological resources available for treatment.
      • Special Populations – includes 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.
    • Professional Readiness – includes personal and professional growth; understanding supervision in the delivery of client services; professional obligations to adhere to ethical standards; understanding of and participation in prevention as well as treatment programs; an understanding of procedures for handling crises or dangerous situations; and coursework related to the prevention of sexual harassment.


“Addiction Counselor Exam” and “ACE” are registered marks of Breining Institute: Service Mark Reg. Nos. 68184, 304796, Class Number 41