AB 700: Myth versus Fact

Bridge for the Future

Dear CAADE members and friends of CAADE,

Our Assembly Bill (AB) 700 passed the State Assembly with 70 “yes” votes and 4 “no” votes and is now moving to the Senate.

AB 700, important legislation for our profession, is under attack from CCAPP. CCAPP has gone to great lengths, including lying to their membership and misrepresenting our bill, to strike fear in their counselors and unleash their opposition to kill our bill in the Senate Health Committee.

About AB 700

Introduced by Assembly Member, Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Assembly Bill 700 is about establishing a standardized career ladder among all certifying organizations, rewarding counselors who pursue advanced degrees and making it easier for employers to hire counselors with appropriate levels of education, certification and experience.

Myths and Facts about AB700



Requires all SUD counselors to obtain a college degree to continue counseling by January 1, 2018.  


No one is required to have a degree.


The career ladder has 3 levels that do not require degrees.


It also has A.A. B.A. M.A. levels to recognize and encourage higher education only for those who already have a degree or want a degree.


The AB 700 career ladder includes ALL counselors and elevates our profession without requiring anyone to get a degree or more education or experience. 

Does not grandparent current workforce into the career ladder; regardless of current certification, those without an advanced degree are relegated to the bottom rungs. 


Not True. There is a place for all counselors on the career ladder with no degree required.


Nothing changes for counselors in the workforce; they simply transition to the new credential when it is time to renew their current credential. 

Bans private practice unless the counselor has a license from another board.  

A certified SUD counselor can have a private practice together with a state licensed therapist.  Currently there is not a SUD license for independent private practice

Creates extensive new regulation and requires certifying organizations to pass this cost to its members.

A uniform career ladder is not “extensive.”  It simplifies certification & standards for employers, the public and DHCS. 

Establishes new requirements for education that reduce education options 

Actually expands education options and is the only legislation that includes CAADE's community college certificate programs, which are unique in the nation. The only requirement is that schools be accredited and use TAP 21 educational standards to better prepare counselors. 

Reduces the number of counselors available to treat addiction in California.  

Not True. Nothing changes for counselors working in CA.  No one loses a job. Everyone continues working and when it is time to renew their current credential they simply renew into the appropriate level of the new credential, based on their education and experience.

No one has to go back to school unless they choose to do so. 


To support AB700, you can call, fax or write letters to the State Legislature!  If you have any questions, you can contact Paula Lee  paula.lee@comcast.net  (916) 704-0195

Contrary to what the bill’s opponents say or believe, AB700 does ­NOT do the following:

  • Jeopardize job security for addiction counselors
  • Encourage counselors to leave their addiction counseling professions to pursue other behavioral health licenses (e.g., LCSW, LMFT, etc.)
  • Allow non-AOD interns to attain higher paying jobs than AOD interns
  • Affect the Five-Year Rule or remove hardship extensions for any registrants
  • Force substance abuse counselors to be relegated to lower-level paying jobs based on their current level of education
  • Force Certifying Organizations (COs) to raise their renewal fees by over $800 

What AB700 will do for the addiction counseling profession:

  • Establish a uniform standard based on SAMHSA’s Career Ladder/Scopes of Practice by which all Certifying Organizations must abide;
  • Eliminate the confusing, inconsistent career ladders between the three existing COs, thereby making it easier for employers to identify addiction counselors according to their level of education, certification and experience;
  • Allow entry-level counselors easy access to affordable quality education and training in addiction counselor competencies;
  • Allow advanced counselors to attain an addiction-specific credential as an addendum to their licensed profession, which addresses the dire need for substance abuse training in primary healthcare in our current workforce;
  • Incentivize addiction professionals to pursue higher education from quality regionally accredited institutions that meet CAADE’s rigorous standards for addiction counselor competencies

You can read the exact bill language at www.leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

How to Take Action

AB 700 and the future of this profession needs you! Take action now! You can help by contacting your senator, especially if s/he is on the Senate Health Committee. This is the list of senators on the Senate Health Committee: Senate Health Committee Members 

Find your legislator at http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/: enter your address to confirm your Senator. 

AB 700 and the future of this profession needs you! Take action now! What to do?

1.  Call the Capitol office AND the district office(s) Staff will ask for your address to make sure you live in the district.  If you live in the district, they will be so happy to hear what you have to tell them!

2.  Or, you can write a note and Fax or send it to the Capitol office and the district office(s). If more than one district office, please contact them all, by phone, note or stop by the office.

3  Make an appointment for guaranteed time.  Drop-ins are OK too but better to call the office and make sure someone is there to meet you. The staff really likes to talk to folks who live in the district. Individuals and small groups!

What to say?

Basic message: 

“I am calling/writing in support of AB 700 and encourage the Senator to vote YES” 

Flood these offices on the list with phone calls and contacts to say you support AB 700.

Want to say more?

•  AB 700 creates a uniform career ladder for counselor certification to end confusion about what

    level of education or experience a counselor has.

    This helps the consumers of these services, employers who hire counselors and the state!

•   recognizes multiple levels of experience and education

•   encourages higher education without requiring it.

•   moves this profession forward to meet national standards for treating a life threatening illness

    and a vulnerable population.  

•   AB 700 protects the entire workforce. All counselors stay employed.

Share something personal. I am a certified addiction counselor, program administrator,  program director, department chair, etc.  As a professional in this field….. My education has enabled me to….an educated workforce is important because…a standardized career ladder will be good for the profession because….\

Call Paula Lee at (916) 704-0195 or email her paula.lee@comcast.net if you have any questions!