drug and alcohol assessment

You might think that when it comes to drug and alcohol treatment, you just show up at a rehab facility and begin your treatment. However, there is a lot more that goes into it in order to make sure that you get the best treatment you need. One of the things that is done before treatment can begin is a drug and alcohol assessment. This is done to determine the best course of action as far as treatment is concerned. It is also beneficial in creating a treatment plan that will work best for you. 

When it comes to a drug and alcohol assessment, there are a lot of questions that people have. In this blog, we will answer many of those questions, including exactly what happens during a drug and alcohol assessment.

What Exactly Is a Drug and Alcohol Assessment?

A drug and alcohol assessment is an evaluation that determines a patient’s best course of action for treatment. Once someone has decided to undergo substance abuse treatment, staff must perform an assessment. This is a tool used to determine the extent of the person’s substance use. It also helps treatment professionals create an individualized care plan well-suited for their needs.

This assessment can also be used to determine if the person is suffering from any co-occurring mental health conditions as a result of their substance abuse. Disorders such as depression or anxiety are also treated during addiction treatment. Not treating these can not only negatively affect the ability for the person to successfully undergo substance abuse treatment, but it can also result in the mental condition worsening.

What is the Purpose of a Drug and Alcohol Assessment?

A drug and alcohol assessment is done by a trained professional at the treatment facility to determine the best treatment plan for the person suffering from addiction. While on paper many people might suffer from the same type of addiction, no two addictions are truly the same. That’s because everyone is different and, as a result, responds uniquely to different things. A drug and alcohol assessment allows the treatment professional to learn more about the person. This then allows them to put together the best treatment plan for them and their problem. 

Additionally, this type of evaluation also helps in determining the following:

  • If the person is suffering from addiction
  • The level of that addiction
  • If there are any co-occurring disorders
  • How the addiction has affected the person’s life

A substance abuse evaluation can be performed by any of the following people in a treatment facility:

  • Social worker
  • Counselor
  • Therapist
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Doctor
  • Nurse

What Can I Expect From a Drug and Alcohol Assessment?

When it comes time to take the actual assessment, there are two main components: screening and the assessment itself. The screening is done to evaluate the possible presence of a particular problem, in which the outcome is normally a simple “yes” or “no.” The assessment is done to define the nature of that problem, determine a diagnosis, and develop specific treatment recommendations for the condition.

Screening

The screening portion of the evaluation is done to help the treatment staff determine what exactly the person needs treatment for. It also tells them if there is anything that requires a more in-depth analysis. This is a vital aspect of an assessment because it helps determine the severity of the addiction which could determine if treatment must begin immediately. It also helps identify if there might be any underlying co-occurring mental disorders that also need to be addressed during treatment. 

There are many different ways that the screening portion of the evaluation can be administered. They include:

  • CAGE Questionnaire: This is one of the most popular and widely used methods of screening. The CAGE Questionnaire asks four questions in a brief and sensitive way.
  • Alcohol Use Inventory: This method is self-administered and designed for people who believe they might have an alcohol addiction. The Alcohol Use Inventory is beneficial because it recognizes that each person has a set of unique perspectives associated with the risks, results, and lifestyle choices associated with drinking.
  • Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI): The SASSI is designed to be easy for both administration and scoring. It helps in determining if the person’s use extends past social drinking or recreational drug use. It also helps determine what level of seriousness the use implies and how willing the person is to identify problems and change.

While some screening methods can be done by the person themselves or even by friends or family, it is recommended that the screening be conducted by a professional. It’s most effective when conducted by a professional. He or she can assess the results in a more timely fashion.

Assessment

While the screening portion is a great way to help determine what the person needs to be treated for, the assessment goes much more in depth. The assessment is conducted in order to find direct evidence that supports a drug or alcohol addiction or a co-occurring disorder. The assessment can be conducted in a variety of different ways, all of which consist of the person taking the assessment meeting with the counselor, or whoever is conducting the assessment, to go over the screening. 

The following are some of the more common ways that an assessment is conducted:

  • Diagnostic Interview: During a diagnostic interview, the interviewer goes over the results of the screening and asks follow up questions to get a better idea of the substance use and abuse. This type of interview can be either structured or semi-structured.
  • Structured Interview: A structured interview is a set of structured questions that makes it easier to obtain basic information as it pertains to substance abuse.
  • Semi-Structured Interview: A semi-structured interview is conducted by someone with a strong background in the addiction field. The interviewer will likely expand on the structured questions using their knowledge and expertise in the field. This allows them to better cross-examine the person’s substance abuse issues.

What If My Assessment is Court Ordered?

When an arrest is made and the charge is drug or alcohol-related, sometimes a judge will offer drug or alcohol treatment in place of jail time. This is often dependent on the person’s criminal history and the severity of the crime committed. When this happens, the judge might order a court-ordered substance abuse assessment. In this case, the assessment will likely be conducted that the court has approved and has been certified by the state to conduct the evaluation. 

Some of the more common crimes that will result in a court-ordered assessment include:

drug and alcohol assessment
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
  • Minor in possession
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Public intoxication
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Using a fake ID to obtain drugs or alcohol

When attending a court-ordered drug and alcohol assessment, the person will meet with a trained substance abuse treatment professional, usually assigned by the court, for anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. During this time, the person conducting the interview will determine if an ongoing condition like substance use disorder is present, or if there is not enough evidence to support a diagnosis. At that point, the interviewer will determine the best course of action, such as:

  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • 12-step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous
  • Counseling sessions
  • Random screenings
  • Substance abuse education classes

How Do I Know If I Need a Drug and Alcohol Assessment?

If you or someone you know appears to be struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, it might be beneficial to undergo an evaluation. Some of the signs and symptoms that an assessment might be needed include:

  • Needing to take a substance regularly in order to feel normal
  • Knowing that you have a problem but unable to stop taking the substance you are abusing
  • Engaging in either risky or even dangerous behavior in order to obtain an illicit substance
  • Engaging in risky or dangerous behavior as a result of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • A noticeable decline in school or work performance
  • Spending money you don’t have on drugs or alcohol, leaving yourself in financial peril
  • A sudden lack of interest in hobbies and activities that you used to enjoy

Are You In Need of a Drug and Alcohol Assessment?

To begin treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, you must first undergo a drug and alcohol assessment in order to help determine the best treatment method for you. It is a crucial first step on the road to recovery. Without a drug and alcohol assessment, it might be difficult for the treatment facility to provide you with the best treatment possible. 

At Harmony Ridge, we understand the importance of a drug and alcohol assessment, which is why we provide one to all of our patients before they begin treatment. We know that by conducting assessments, we can help our patients get the best help possible, which is our goal. Contact us today to learn more about our drug and alcohol assessments or schedule a time to take one.