What does an Addiction Counselor in Indiana do? What is Their Job Role?

Anyone who is thinking of pursuing a career in the field of substance abuse counseling in the state of Indiana must consider a variety of substance abuse counseling careers. These careers entail a variety of educational requirements, licensure, and field work depending upon which one you choose to pursue.

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An addiction counselor is someone who provides council to a client with addictions counseling services who has been diagnosed with some form of substance disorder. The responsibility of a substance abuse counselor is treatment that includes at least fifty percent of the service to be actual addiction counseling services that may include structured interviewing of the client and family members if needed and reviewing assessment and planning a treatment process customized to the client’s needs. An addiction counselor has the responsibility of contacting other professional clinics to coordinate the services for treatment that a client needs and that are part of the treatment plan.

Very often, clients are referred to addiction counselors for mental health evaluations and services as part of the structured plan. An addiction counselor must educate a client and sometimes the family members on educational programs related to learning about mental health treatments related to a client’s substance abuse. This may include meeting with teams of treatment professionals to properly assess the needs of the client and coordinating with them the proper services.

Indiana Licensing & Certifications for Associates & Independent Counselors

  • Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC)
  • Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor (LCAC)

The state of Indiana sets a high standard for a license in both of these careers. A Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to practice while a Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor (LCAC) must have a minimum of a master’s level degree or higher.

In rare cases, a LAC or LCAC is exempt from obtaining state of Indiana licensure, but must show other professional qualifications from a recognized organization or agency in the field of addiction counseling in order to be approved to practice in the state of Indiana.

Education Requirements

Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC)

The following specifications are required in order to hold the title of Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Indiana:

  • A bachelor’s degree must be held in one of the following subject areas: addiction counseling, psychology, sociology, social work.
  • You must have completed coursework in the following subjects: family education, ethics, treatment planning, diversity competency, theories of addiction, psychoactive drugs, skills in addiction counseling, personality theories, developmental psychology, and abnormal psychology
  • Field experience as a practicum, internship, or work experience totaling 350 hours of actual addiction counseling
  • Two years of supervised experience in addiction counseling (with proof) post-degree
  • Face-to-face supervision of 150 hours (100 hrs. individualized counseling; 50 hours group counseling)
  • Passing of the ADC or the NCACII exam (see below)
  • Pass the Indiana Jurisprudence examination: A test of the state of Indiana’s laws and rules governing practice in various fields including substance abuse counseling.

Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor (LCAC)

  • A Master’s degree in only the behavioral science specialty is accepted
  • Successfully completed courses in the following subjects: family education, ethics, treatment planning, diversity competency, theories of addiction, psychoactive drugs, skills in addiction counseling, personality theories, developmental psychology, and abnormal psychology
  • 350 supervised hours of practicum, internships, or work in the field of substance abuse counseling
  • Passing of the IC&RC exam or the NAADAC exam
  • 2 years post-degree supervised substance abuse counseling
  • 100 hours of individualized, face-to-face, supervised counseling
  • 50 hours of supervised group counseling
  • Pass the Indiana Jurisprudence examination.

There is more leeway with the LCAC degree in subject-area specialties. Any master’s or doctorate degree can be in addiction counseling, addiction therapy, or in other related coursework from an accredited program. But, the graduate program must have an emphasis on addiction counseling to be appropriate to the guidelines of the state of Indiana.

Courses and requirements specific to graduate level degrees for an LCAC licensure are as follows:

  • Theories of addiction counseling
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Clinical assessment
  • Group addiction theory and practice
  • Diversity in counseling
  • Psychopathology
  • Addiction and research methods
  • Clinical issues
  • Counseling of addicted families
  • The ethics, legal, and professional standards prevalent in addiction counseling (two-semesters)
  • Appraisal and assessment of dysfunction in the individual (two semesters)
  • 700 hours practicum or work in the field (280 hours face-to-face client interaction)

Third-Party Certification for Licensure in Indiana

There is also a process for individuals who may qualify through approval from another state organization recognized by the state of Indiana as being a qualifying organization for prospective addiction counselors in the area of substance abuse.

Some individuals may qualify under the completion of an addiction education program and practicum certified by a state organization such as the following:

  • Indiana Association for Addiction Professionals
  • Indiana Counselors Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse
  • Indiana Association for Addiction Professionals (APIT program)
  • Indiana Counselors Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse

(CACREP) or (CORE) Licensure and Certification


Two types of accreditation are recognized in the United States; institutional and specialized. Institutional accreditation takes the entire institution into account while the specialized focus on professional preparation programs. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a specialized accreditation that focuses on master’s and doctoral degree programs in addictions counseling at colleges and universities worldwide. Only already-accredited institutions are eligible for CACREP review. The review for accreditation will center on programs offering graduate degrees in addictions counseling.

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Choosing a CACREP-accredited program ensures that the program meets the highest of quality standards. Many counseling specialties are accredited bythe CACREP, including addiction counseling. Accredited addiction counseling programs prepare individuals to work with those affected by addictive behavior and their families. Addictive behaviors include alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, sex, and anything else that negatively affects your personal or work life by creating addiction behaviors.

CACREP-accredited programs will focus on treatment models and the phases of addiction including prevention, recovery, and relapse prevention. These 60-semester hour programs will include the application of interventions. When students choose a CACREP-accredited program they can be confident that:

  • the program meets or exceeds national standards
  • the program will focus on professional counseling rather than psychology oreducation
  • the program has an excellent reputation
  • CACREP graduates statistically receive higher scores on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).
  • the requirements for licensure will be met.

Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (IPLA)
Behavioral Health & Human Services Licensing Board

The Indiana substance abuse Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board is an arm of IPLA. The goal of IPLA is to provide licensing opportunities to qualified applicants. The Board focuses its attention on the licensure of mental health professionals. IPLA strives to offer efficient exam processes to all potential licensees, as well as online renewal for current professionals. The Board is responsible for supervising the conduct of existing mental health counseling practices and investigating complaints.


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  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor - Associate (LMHCA)

Counselor Testing & Examination Process


You must pass the ADC administered by the IC&RC or the NCACII exam administered by the NAADAC. The state of Indiana deems either of these exams acceptable for licensure in the state.

For the LAC license, the accepted exam is the NAADAC Level II exam as well as the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam or ADC.

For the LCAC license, applicants must take the NAADAC Master Addiction Counselor exam (MAC) or the IC&RC Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam (AADC).

Each applicant must fill out a state of Indiana substance abuse application before being approved for any examinations for licensure. Each licensee must have their two years of post-degree substance abuse counseling experience completed before they can apply for the exam.

Out-of-State Licensure Requirements


There are circumstances where anyone who is licensed in a state other than Indiana can be approved for a waiver for the state examination. But, they must show proof that they have passed an equivalent examination in their state in their specific area of study, have practiced at least three years in that state, and they must hold a current license in that state. The candidate must still take the state of Indiana’s jurisprudence exam to prove their knowledge of state laws and rules.

Clinical Supervision Explained

The supervisor must meet the standards of the substance abuse Indiana state board. The designated supervisor must also meet professional requirements within the skills required of the field in order to assess the knowledge and skill set of the substance abuse counseling trainee for the purpose of improvement that leads to optimal skill within the area being assessed. This includes determining if the trainee is able to work efficiently and effectively with a client in the field.

Renewal and Continuing Education

  • Licenses in the state of Indiana expire in April of an even-numbered year of when the license was issued.
  • There is no grace period for licenses after April 1st. This is when a late of $50 will automatically be issued.
  • Anyone who holds an expired license of longer than 3 years will have to fill out a new application. This must include an explanation as to why the license expired, proof of at least 40 hours of continuing education in the last two years, and a $100 fee for reinstatement of the licensure.
  • Lapsed licensure can include one or both of the following actions: an in-person interview or a re-taking of the national exam

Continuing Education

  • 40 hours are needed to for renewal of either license (LAC or LCAC)
  • These hours are equal to 20 continuing education credits (CEUs)
  • The renewal period is April 1st – March 31st of even-numbered years
  • A mandatory requirement of continuing education is taking at least one hour of ethics
  • If you are a newer license holder of less than three years, then a minimum of 20 hours is required for renewal
  • If you are license holder of less than a year, no continuing education is required.
  • Category I CEUs are needed per licensure cycle and fall into the following categories: workshops, symposiums, seminars, home study courses that need to be accredited by the state of Indiana and other associated organizations within the field of study.
  • Any college courses from accredited higher education entities will count as 15 CEUs for each academic semester as they are completed.
  • Any teaching in the related subject areas count as 1 ½ CEUs for each hour taught at an accredited higher education institution.
  • Professional development related to clinical in-service counts as 1 CEU for each hour.
  • Research and published research in a related professional journal counts as 10 CEUs.
  • Holding a position on a board or commission related to the field earns 1 CEU for each hour served.

For anyone who has “retired” their license and wants to pursue a renewal, there are specific time amounts of continuing education hours and time frames for those hours depending upon how long your license was retired:

  • 0-3 years is 20hours of continuing education completed in one year’s time
  • 3-6 years is 40 hours of continuing education completed in two years’ time
  • 6-10 years is 60 hours of continuing education completed in three years’ time
  • 10 years or more in retirement has requirements set by the state governing board to determine hours and time frame for completion.

Potential Counselor Career Path Options

  • Addiction Counselor
  • Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselor
  • Behavioral Health Specialist
  • Certified Addiction Drug and Alcohol Counselor
  • Chemical Dependency Counselor
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • School Counselor
  • Substance Abuse Counselor

Associations & Organizations

  • Indiana Professional Licensing Agency
  • The Indiana Association for Addiction Professionals
  • Indiana Credentialing Association
  • Indiana Counselors Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ICAADA)

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