How to Become an Addiction Counselor in Indiana

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What is Addiction Counseling?


Addiction is a condition that is not constrained by social, socioeconomic, geographical, or racial lines. It’s a disease that can hold anyone in its grasp. When someone is ready to shed their addiction to alcohol, drugs, or another situation, they often need help from trained professionals to do so. This is where addiction counselors come into play. Indiana is not immune to the issues of drug and alcohol abuse. Because of this, there is a need for addiction counselors in the state. And according to US Bureau of Labor statistics, the need for addiction counselors is expected to increase at a faster rate than average through the year 2029.

The process of becoming an addiction counselor is not a short one, but for people who are driven and motivated by helping people who want to better their lives, the process is definitely worth it. If you are interested and being the person that helps others reclaim their lives, then the information provided below will be of interest to you. Whether you want to work with people on an individual basis or be part of an outreach program that works with the community as a whole, there is an addiction counseling career available to you. Outlined below you’ll find general descriptions of what addiction counselors do, the education required, and examples of positions a person can hold once they have achieved the proper education and licensing required for the state of Indiana.

An addiction counselor is a person who works with individuals who are attempting to live a sober and clean life after a history of alcohol and or drug abuse. These counselors can be in private practice, or part of a clinical staff in a hospital or drug and alcohol treatment center. They may work with individuals one on one and can also conduct group sessions where people can talk about their issues with other people in similar situations. Counselors and addiction counselors alike receive specialized training and are required to be licensed before they can work in the state of Indiana.


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Addiction Counseling Education in Indiana


To work as an addiction counselor in the state of Indiana, a person must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a license to practice in the state. That said, there are other positions that can be held in the addiction counseling area that do not require a license. Below is a listing of possible degree programs at various levels, the courses required to complete these programs, and the approximate time that it takes to complete each type of program.

Online Associate Degree in Addiction Counseling (AS)

An associate degree in addiction counseling is often not considered a standalone degree. While it’s not an add-on, it will be better for someone who may choose to receive a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work, psychology, or other healthcare field later on. Those who complete this degree and want to become an addiction counselor may not need to receive more education to get started, but they will be very limited in the positions they can hold.

Some of the required classes include:

  • Introduction to Alcohol & Drug Counseling
  • Assessment of Alcohol & Drug Addiction
  • Professional, Legal & Ethical Responsibilities for Alcohol & Drug Counselors
  • Special Topics for Alcohol & Drug Counseling
  • Treatment Planning & Relapse Prevention for Alcohol & Drug Addiction

Those who already have a bachelor’s or master’s degree may choose to earn a certificate in order to gain training focused on addiction studies.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Addiction Counseling (BS)

A bachelor’s degree in addiction counseling will include psychology and sociology classes, as well as other liberal arts courses, chemistry, and biology. Substance abuse counseling undergraduate programs are well-rounded and built so that a ‘student comprehends how drug addiction changes the chemical composition of a person’s brain.’

Some classes in the curriculum might include:

  • Behavioral Psychology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Human Development
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

At least one clinical internship, depending on their area of study will often be required for successful completion of the program. Internships can take place in a hospital setting or under the guidance of a licensed therapist trained in offering internships to students.

Online Master's Degree in Addiction Counseling (MS or MC)

Graduate degrees in either social work or psychology are the most common graduate degrees for addiction counseling. Addiction counseling is a component of both programs at a graduate degree level.

Along with courses in addiction counseling, students enrolled in master degree programs will also take the following courses:

  • Building Your Ideal Private Practice
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Orientation to Addiction
  • Psychopathology and Personality Disorders
  • Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling

Students who are not currently working in the field will be required to complete an internship, either through a healthcare system, an organization, or an individual in private practice with a licensed counselor who can provide mentorship during the training period.

Online PhD Degree in Addiction Counseling (PhD)

Doctorate degrees in addiction counseling are generally part of a clinical PhD program. This aspect of the degree varies depending on the area where the person wants to practice. You may also choose a doctorate focused in general counseling if you already have a high-level degree in addictions counseling.

Classes included in such degree programs may include the following:

  • Psychopathology
  • Professional, Ethical, and Legal Issues in Counseling Psychology
  • Supervision in Counseling Psychology
  • Theories of counseling and Psychotherapy
  • Issues of Diversity in Counseling Psychology
  • Required Supplemental Practicums

Those with doctorates can also teach at colleges or universities and can apply for tenured positions at these schools. Depending on the candidate’s work history, a clinical might be required to meet either degree or dissertation requirements. A clinical internship has to be completed under the supervision of a licensed supervisor and involve face-to-face counseling training with patients.

Become an Addiction Counselor in Indiana


There are four categories for addiction counselors in Indiana:

  • Addiction Counselor Associates (ACA)
  • Licensed Addiction Counselors (LAC)
  • Clinical Addiction Counselor Associates (CACA)
  • Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselors (LCAC)

Addiction counselor associates have degrees and licenses from other states but want to practice in the state of Indiana. These professionals are provided temporary permits for up to 180 days. Within that timeframe, they are required to submit an application for licensure and set a date for the licensing exam.

Licensed addiction counselors can be counselors who hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as psychology, social work, or sociology. They must take the Indiana licensing exam to work as a licensed counselor in the state.

Clinical addiction counselor associates must hold a minimum of a master’s degree in a related field such as psychology, sociology, or social work and have passed a licensing exam in another state. They are also offered temporary work permits and must take the Indiana licensing exam in order to continue working in Indiana. Licensed clinical addiction counselors (LCAC) must hold a master’s degree or higher and be licensed in the state of Indiana.

For a licensed addiction counselor to be granted a license in the state of Indiana, they must meet the following requirements:

  • They must hold a bachelor’s degree
  • They must have completed coursework in subjects such as family education, ethics, and theories of addiction to name a few
  • They must complete field experience as an internship, work experience, or a practicum that totals a minimum of 350 hours - This must be actual addiction counseling
  • Two years of supervised experience in addiction counseling after they've completed their degree
  • Most pass the ADC or the NCAC exam
  • Most past the Indiana jurisprudence examination - This is a test of the state of Indiana’s laws and rules that govern practice in various fields including substance abuse counseling

To attain the licensed clinical addiction counselor status in the state of Indiana, a person must meet the following requirements:

  • Must have a master’s degree in one of the behavioral sciences
  • Must successfully complete courses such as treatment planning, ethics, theories of addiction, skills in addiction counseling, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, psychiatric drugs, and more
  • Must complete 350 supervised hours of internship work or practical in the field of substance abuse counseling
  • Must pass the IC & RC exam or the NAADAC exam
  • Must complete two years post-degree, supervised substance abuse counseling
  • Must complete 100 hours of individualized face to face supervised counseling
  • Complete 50 hours of supervised group counseling
  • Pass the Indiana jurisprudence examination

Careers for Addiction Counseling Graduates


There are many kinds of counseling careers and below are some examples of the kinds of careers you can expect to come across after you've completed your education in addiction counseling.

  • School Counselor
    School counselors can work at all levels of the educational system, from elementary schools up to an including colleges and universities. Depending on the student and the situation, school counselors can help in choosing classes, majors, and creating career goals while looking for employment upon graduation. They are also trained to identify any issues that students may display and advise and help the students and their families find assistance outside of the school grounds.
  • Child Counselor
    Child counselors work specifically with children to help them navigate any behavioral or emotional issues they may be having. Some are located in schools, but others are in private practice or are attached to another social service agency. These counselors are specially trained to understand how to communicate with children and know ways to get children to open up about how they're feeling, what may be going on at home, or at school.
  • Military Counselor
    Military counselors help individuals who are about to or have just recently exited the military service readjust to civilian life. They can help with securing housing, employment, and general emotional concerns a person might have while making the transition. Many military counselors are military service people themselves, so they have a special understanding of what those in this position are facing. However, anyone who desires to help former military members can succeed in this role.
  • Grief Counselor
    Grief counselors work with families and individuals who are attempting to cope with loss. Some grief counselors specialize in the field working with widowers, children who have lost parents, those who have lost family members to violence, etc. Grief counselors can work with people on both an individual level or in a group setting. They are often hired by organizations that offer social outreach to the community but they can also work out of a private practice.
  • Clinical Social Worker
    Social workers are some of the best known types of counselors. They are often the first to identify issues and determine where a person should be placed to seek help. Social workers don't just work with children; they work with people of all ages and strive to help the world be a better place overall. Some social workers also double as counselors.
  • Group Counselor or Therapist
    A group counselor is a therapist that works mainly with larger groups of people. They may focus on grief counseling or helping those with PTSD or addiction. Although some people prefer one on one counseling, there are times when a group setting is a better approach. For example, many 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Al-Anon are based on a group therapy concept. Group counselors are special specially trained to work with groups in this type of setting.
  • Residential Counselor
    Residential counselors work in a treatment center or group home setting. When people are released from treatment centers or rehabilitation centers, they are often sent to group homes as a transition toward resuming their everyday life. Residential counselors are on hand in these facilities to assist these people with the transition process and to discuss the changes that they are facing. They may offer individual and group therapy sessions. They mainly deal with alcohol and substance abuse issues, but many are also trained in other areas such as grief or other psychological issues.

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