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2023 Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees in Indiana

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 10/18/2023

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To become a substance abuse and addiction counselor helping individuals struggling with the devastating effects of chemical dependency, you’ll need to develop specialized skills through a postsecondary certificate or degree program. Our list below highlights online substance use counseling degrees in Indiana at all available program levels, including certificates. Distance learning can be an affordable and convenient way to get the training you’ll need, especially if you already balance multiple responsibilities. Entering this in-demand field may start with a certificate or bachelor’s degree.

Our ranked lists of the best online substance abuse counseling programs, the most affordable online substance abuse counseling programs, and the best online counseling programs provide additional options worth exploring. 

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Indiana Wesleyan University Online

  • Locations: Marion
  • Annual Tuition: $18,868

Mid-sized Indiana Wesleyan University Online (IWU) is a private, faith-based institution in rural Marion. It weaves Wesleyan values and beliefs throughout its curriculum. IWU offers two online programs in addiction counseling at the graduate level.

  • The Master of Arts in Clinical Addictions Counseling is a 48-credit program that helps students meet credentialing requirements and integrates a Christian worldview into evidenced-based practice. It’s accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission. Graduating generally takes full-time students two to three years and requires completing a supervised practicum and internship. Courses include Psychopharmacology, Counseling Addicted Families, and Integration of Christian Faith In Professional Counseling.
  • The Graduate Certificate in Addictions Counseling is designed for students with bachelor’s degrees who want to specialize and prepare for career advancement without earning an additional degree. However, it doesn’t prepare students for licensure. Students must complete 18 credits to earn their degree, which generally takes full-time students a year or less. Courses include Issues in Addiction Recovery, Psychopathology, and Theories and Treatment of Addiction.

IWU’s distance learners use the Brightspace learning management system to navigate their online courses asynchronously. IWU supports its online student body by offering access to student resources such as academic writing assistance and paper review, tech support, tutoring, coaching, and Christ-centered support for those in crisis.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $11,594
  • Repayment Rate: 94%
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Recommend Rate: 40%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 5,425 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 3,730 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 15 enrolled

University of Southern Indiana

  • Locations: Evansville
  • Annual Tuition: $21,212

Suburban Evansville’s University of Southern Indiana (USI) is a mid-sized, public institution with an online graduate-level certificate in addiction science.

  • The Post-Master’s Certificate in Addiction Science is a 12-credit online certificate designed for those with a clinical master’s or doctorate in social work from a Council on Social Work Education-accredited program. It helps students learn the latest addiction theories and techniques, interventions, research methods, and psychopharmacology. Full-time students can generally finish in three semesters. Courses include Crisis Intervention and Legal, Ethical, and Professional Standards in Addiction Science.

USI delivers its online program content through Blackboard. It supports its distance learners by providing remote access to resources, including academic advising, tech support, the Center for Adult Learner Success, career services, and the library.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $8,014
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 94%
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Retention Rate: 69%
  • Recommend Rate: 82%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 702 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 1,666 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 22 enrolled

Vincennes University

  • Locations: Vincennes
  • Annual Tuition: $15,253

Vincennes University (VU) is a mid-sized, public institution with an online substance use certificate program available.

  • The Certificate of Program Completion in Substance Abuse at VU is a 24-credit online program designed for professionals or paraprofessionals. It can be completed in about one year of full-time study. While it is not intended to lead to state certification or licensure in substance abuse counseling, it may be a feasible way to develop the skills to recognize addiction and understand the treatment options available. Courses in the curriculum include Assessment and Treatment of Addiction Disorders, Abnormal Psychology, and Addiction Disorders and Psychoactive Drugs. This online certificate may benefit those in the helping fields, such as nursing, case management, ministry, school counseling, and social work.

Distance learners at VU use Blackboard to access their courses online asynchronously. They will also have remote access to VU’s student resources, such as the bookstore and library, mental health counseling services, the Writing Center, tutoring, and tech support.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $9,239
  • Repayment Rate: 80%
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 27%
  • Retention Rate: 42%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 1,051 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: N/A
  • Certificate Online: 205 enrolled
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Overview of Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees in Indiana

While statistics show that nearly one in 12 Indiana residents meets the criteria for substance use disorder (SUD), virtually all Hoosiers are affected. Studies of the addiction crisis in this state reveal an increase in drug overdose deaths and more cases of Hepatitis C and other infectious diseases. This situation has cost the state billions of dollars over the past 20 years.

Despite these dire consequences, Indiana's state and local governments are working hard to address the substance misuse problem. For example, the state is home to more than 400 inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, as well as approximately 85 drug and alcohol detox centers. These and many other facilities provide medications, treatments, and other services, such as substance abuse counseling, which generates more jobs for licensed addiction counselors.

For more online bachelor's degrees related to the counseling field, visit our listings of the best online substance abuse counseling degrees, the most affordable online substance abuse counseling degrees, and the best online counseling degrees.

FAQs About Substance Use Counseling Degrees in Indiana

What Can You Do With a Substance Use Counselor Degree in Indiana?


Whether you've graduated from an in-person or online substance abuse counseling degree program, you'll find a range of career opportunities in Indiana. 

If your goal is to provide counseling for substance abuse, a bachelor's degree will qualify you to become an addiction counselor. When you first begin your career, you'll need a license to work as an Addiction Counselor Associate (LACA). As you acquire on-the-job experience and training, you can advance to the level of Addiction Counselor (LAC). To achieve the highest level of substance abuse counseling certification in Indiana — a Clinical Addiction Counselor (LCAC) — you'll need a master's degree.

However, a clinical role is not your only option. There are plenty of other ways to assist people suffering from substance use disorder in your community that do not involve one-on-one counseling. For example, you could go to work for a government-sponsored agency or nonprofit organization as a community health worker or health education specialist. With time and experience, you may also qualify for managerial roles.

How Do I Become a Substance Use Counselor in Indiana?


Substance abuse counseling in Indiana is overseen by the Behavioral Health and Human Service Licensing Board. However, the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (IPLA) processes all of the applications and issues licensure. The IPLA website provides a thorough explanation of how to become a substance use counselor, as well as application materials. 

In this state, there are four levels of substance abuse counseling certification: 

  • Addiction Counselor Associate (LACA) requires a bachelor's degree.
  • Addiction Counselor (LAC) requires a bachelor's degree and two years of experience.
  • Clinical Addiction Counselor Associate (LCACA) requires a master's degree.
  • Clinical Addiction Counselor (LCAC) requires a master's degree and two years of experience.

Both bachelor's degrees and master's degrees must be earned through a clinically-based program on behavioral therapy, and the degrees must be from an accredited college or university. If you'd like to earn an online substance abuse counseling degree, you may be interested in our lists of the best online substance abuse counseling master's degrees and the most affordable online substance abuse counseling master's degrees. All of these programs are institutionally accredited. 

LACA applicants must also accumulate 350 hours of clinical experience and must pass the ADC or Level II exam sponsored by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). To advance to the LAC level, you must complete 21-48 months of additional work experience in substance abuse counseling in Indiana. Of these, 150 hours must be conducted under the supervision of an approved practitioner.

To apply for the LCACA level, you must also have 700 hours of clinical experience and must pass the AADC or MAC exam sponsored by the IC&RC. Finally, to move ahead to the LCAC level, you must accumulate 21-48 months of additional work experience, of which 300 hours must be supervised.

All of these licenses need to be renewed every two years. You must complete 40 hours of continuing education, including two hours of training in ethics, to have your license renewed.

Does Indiana Have Reciprocity for Substance Use Counselors?


Yes, Indiana has reciprocity for substance use counselors in good standing from other states. If you want to provide in-person or online substance abuse counseling in the state, you'll need to submit an application to the IPLA. You must apply for the level of Indiana substance abuse counseling certification that is comparable to your current credential. Before being approved, you'll need to pass an exam on relevant Indiana state laws.

How Much Does a Substance Use Counselor Make in Indiana?


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in Indiana earn a mean annual salary of $48,180. In Indiana, there are currently more than 7,600 of these professionals employed across the state, but that number is expected to grow to more than 8,500 by 2030.

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