Substance Abuse / Addiction Counselor Requirements in Indiana

The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency recently began licensing addiction counselors. The ‘grandfathering’ period ended in 2012; all candidates must now meet stated requirements. There are two levels of licensure. ‘Licensed Addiction Counselor’ is granted to professionals with bachelor’s degrees. ‘Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor’ is granted to professionals with master’s degrees. Candidates at either level must complete a supervised experience requirement and pass a licensing examination.

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Licensed Addiction Counselor

The Licensed Addiction Counselor will need a bachelor’s degree in addiction studies or a related field like psychology, counseling, social work, or family relations.

Transcripts must show 40 semester hours (or the equivalent) of college coursework in the following areas (

  • Personality theory
  • Developmental psychology
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Psychoactive drugs
  • Addictions theory
  • Addiction counseling
  • Treatment planning
  • Cultural competency
  • Family education
  • Professional development and ethics
  • Other approved areas

The addiction counselor will need 350 hours of internship, practicum, or acceptable supervised experience. This may be supervised by an appropriately credentialed addiction counselor or by a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric or mental health nurse specialist, mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, or equivalent professional.

The Licensed Addiction Counselor will also need two years of post-degree experience; the required hours may be completed in a period of 21 to 48 months. 150 hours must consist of face-to-face supervision; there should be 100 individual supervision hours and 50 group supervision hours.

Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor

An LCAC must hold a master’s or doctoral degree ( The degree may be in addiction studies or in a related field like psychology, human services, social work, or human development. There must be at least 27 semester hours of addiction counseling coursework.

The candidate will need to demonstrate coursework in all required areas:

  • Psychopathology
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Human development
  • Theories and techniques of addiction counseling
  • Group addiction counseling
  • Counseling of addicted family systems
  • Multicultural counseling
  • Clinical assessment and appraisal
  • Clinical problems
  • Research methods in addiction

Additionally, the counselor will need a two or three semester hour course in each of the following:

  • Assessment and appraisal of individual or interpersonal disorders
  • Professional, ethical, and legal standards, as related to addiction counseling (or another similar approved course)

It is permissible to take coursework outside the master’s or doctorate. However, it must be taken through an institution that has accreditation or approval by one of the following:

  • National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC)
  • International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC & RC)
  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • American Psychological Association (APA)

The candidate will provide evidence of at least 350 hours of services in the form of internship, practicum, or other supervised work for which credit was granted (

Two years of supervised post-graduate work experience is required. Doctoral internship may be credited. 200 hours must be under qualified supervision; this is to include 100 individual supervision hours and 100 group supervision hours.

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The Examination Process

Candidates at either level may elect to take either of two nationally recognized licensing examinations. A candidate for Licensed Addiction Counselor may opt for the International Examination for Alcohol & Drug Counselors (ADC) or the National Certified Addiction Counselor II (NCAC II). A candidate for Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor may opt for the International Advanced Examination for Alcohol & Drug Counselors (AADC) or the Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) examination. The ADC and AADC are administered by IC & RC. The NCAC II and MAC are administered by the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). Candidates do not register directly but go through their own licensing agency or certification board.

The candidate will indicate the desired examination on the application. The candidate will need to take the examination within one year of approval. Re-examination is permitted; the candidate will need to submit a retake examination and an additional fee. A candidate who fails three examination attempts, however, will not be allowed to retest without an appearance before the Board.

The Application Process

Application forms for Licensed Addiction Counselors ( and Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselors ( are available on the Professional Licensing Agency website. The applicant must submit official transcripts and fill out a form to verify coursework. The licensing agency suggests that candidates also include syllabi or course catalog descriptions. (A candidate may be approved for licensure without detailed course information if it is clear that all requirements have been met. However, sometimes the application process is delayed by requests for additional information.)

Experience and supervision verification are to be submitted to the licensing agency directly from the source.

A candidate who has held health licensing in any state must submit official verification. A candidate who answers ‘yes’ to background history questions will need to submit a notarized statement.

A 2 by 3 photograph should be included with the application. There is an application fee of $50 for licensure at either level.

After the application has been received, the candidate will receive instructions about completing a fingerprint-based background check; this step is not to be carried out beforehand ( At this stage, an in-state candidate will register with Identogo and schedule an appointment for electronic fingerprinting; fingerprints will be submitted electronically. Out-of-state candidates will register with the approved vendor but have prints made on FBI cards and then mailed to the vendor for scanning.

Out-of-State Addiction Counselors

Under certain circumstances, an out-of-state counselor may be licensed without taking the examination. The counselor must be credentialed on the basis of examination; if the examination was not one that is approved for licensure in Indiana, it must be judged substantially equivalent. The licensed addiction counselor must have worked in the field for three of the prior five years.

It is still necessary to meet Indiana’s education and experience requirements. The endorsement candidate will also need to pass an examination on Indiana’s laws and rules.

An out-of-state addiction counselor may be granted a temporary permit if either of the following apply: 1) The addiction counselor is state licensed or state certified. 2) The addiction counselor is nationally certified and has been practicing in a state that does not license addiction counselors. There is an additional fee of $25 for the temporary permit. It is valid for up to 180 days. The temporary permit is invalidated if the candidate is found ineligible for licensing; failing the required examination would be a possible reason. A candidate who is unable to take a scheduled examination is sometimes issued another temporary permit; the Board must concur that there was good cause.


Additional Information

Addiction counselor licensing information is available on the Professional Licensing Agency website ( The licensing agency can be contacted by telephone at (317) 234-2064 or by email at: pla5 at

The Indiana Association for Addiction Professionals is an additional professional resource (

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