A substance abuse evaluation can be a nerve-wracking experience. After all, someone is put on the spot and asked to discuss private information with a stranger. It’s only natural to be nervous or even embarrassed. However, knowing what to expect during a substance abuse evaluation will greatly alleviate any concerns, especially since these assessments are pretty standard and mostly consist of the same things. It’s also important for individuals to remember they’re not being judged for anything they’ve done nor do they have to apologize during a substance abuse evaluation.
Sometimes unhealthy circumstances require these evaluations by courts or through interventions. These circumstances might involve out of controlled substance abuse that endangers oneself or others. When someone reaches that point, a mandated assessment must take place. This evaluation has many purposes:
- Determines if the individual has an alcohol or drug addiction
- Determines the extent of the addiction
- Discerns if there are any co-occurring conditions
- Assesses how much the addiction affects an individual’s life
- Offers an understanding of the individual’s unique circumstances so the right treatment plan can be built
What to expect
There are two parts to any substance abuse evaluation: a screening and an assessment. The first evaluates the possible presence of a drug or alcohol addiction. The second defines the problem, provides a diagnosis, and develops a specific treatment plan for recovery. Every substance abuse evaluation should have the same basic questions.
This part helps the professional examiner determine if there is in fact an addiction that needs further examination. A lot of times, the screening can be done online for convenience. It’s important for both the professional and individual as it will highlight any risk factors while allowing for early care and support. It can be a healthy first step on the road to recovery.
There are 4 things every screening should ask:
- Family history of drug and/or alcohol use/abuse
- What an individual is using and how much
- Legal/social/employment impact
- Age of first use
This part of the evaluation aims to find direct evidence that supports the presence or absence of a drug or alcohol addiction. Here, a professional interviews the individual while going over the results of the screening. A more thorough examination is required to get a better idea of what’s going on. This can be in the form of a structured interview or semi-structured interview. The first uses a pre-set framework of questions that don’t necessarily allow for detailed responses. The second uses the pre-set questions alongside specific supplemented questions developed by an expert to better examine an individual’s circumstance. The second is a much better interview process because it can fine-tune an effective treatment plan.
Things an assessment should do:
- Go over and clarify the screening results
- Explore an individual’s drug use background and current situation
- Define the addiction’s impact on an individual’s life in more detail
- Develop a unique recovery program
After a team of facility professionals examines an individual’s evaluation results, recommendations for treatment can be made. The final meeting before entering a facility will include results and suggested next steps.
- No treatment
- Drug or alcohol education classes
- Outpatient chemical dependency treatment
- Residential chemical dependency treatment
- Couples or family therapy
- Individual counseling
- Medication organization and management
Remember, a substance abuse evaluation is for one’s own benefit. While someone might feel embarrassed, ashamed, and secretive, it’s time to be honest. Keeping anything back only harms people in the long run and hinders their chances for healthier lives.
An addiction evaluation should be seen as a positive experience. It provides a brief intervention that showcases an individual’s unique alcohol or drug problem. Plus, it allows teams to develop effective recommendations and treatment plans for individuals, not just cookie-cutter solutions. Fortunately, all these evaluations have similar questions so individuals can come prepared and confident to start their journeys.
If you have any questions or want to get started on the path to sobriety, please call us at Center For Healing 888–500–9279.
Erica Franco Mortimer, MA, LPC, LCADC
Founder and CEO
Center for Healing
Erica is a licensed therapist with over twenty-years experience in mental health. Erica offers practical and straight forward advice to those struggling with addiction and their families. Having deep insight and understanding of addiction, Erica is able to offer guidance to those looking to regain control of their lives.