A drug and alcohol evaluation is used to determine the severity of a person’s addiction. A drug and alcohol evaluation (also referred to as a substance abuse evaluation) is needed to develop an informed and effective treatment plan that is tailored to the needs of each person and give him or her the very best chance at recovery.
Substance abuse can affect a person’s life profoundly and lead to severe damage to their physical and mental health, academic performance, career, finances, and interpersonal relationships. When an individual has reached this point and is in dire need of professional help, he or she may be confronted with taking a drug and alcohol evaluation. This evaluation is a tool employed to help determine the extent of a person’s abuse of drugs or alcohol and what treatment a person should receive if he or she is to achieve the best outcome.
The purposes of a drug and alcohol evaluation are to do the following:
- Determine if the person has drug or alcohol addiction
- Assess the severity of a substance abuse disorder or addiction
- Identify any co-existing conditions, including physical or mental health issues
- Evaluate the extent to which substance abuse affects a person’s life
- Provide an understanding of the person and his or her unique circumstances so that the treatment team may devise a treatment plan that is suited to the person’s needs, goals, and recovery
What to Expect
A drug and alcohol evaluation consists of two steps: screening and assessment. A screening is a process used to ascertain the presence of an issue with substance use. Assessment is a process that analyzes the nature of the problem, helps to identify a diagnosis, and design precise treatment recommendations to address the problem accordingly.
These elements may be facilitated by a wide range of professionals, many of whom are specifically trained to evaluate for substance abuse or addiction. The persons involved may be counselors, social workers, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, etc. Through interviews, these professionals will gather information about a person’s health history, past and present drug or alcohol use, the ways in which it has impacted his or her life, and any history of treatment for these issues.
Substance Abuse Screening
Screening is the first step in helping an addiction specialist know if drug or alcohol abuse or addiction is present. A screening is a preliminary exam that also allows the interviewer to determine if there are circumstances present that warrant a more in-depth inquiry. The screening may be administered in person or online.
Drug and Alcohol Assessment
The assessment of an individual who is likely to have a substance abuse problem is much more thorough, and a diagnostic interview will be conducted. The interviewer will then go over the results of the screening with the individual and ask more questions to gain a broader picture of the person’s substance abuse. An individual might find him or herself in the position of undergoing an evaluation if they elect to take the first steps toward entering an addiction treatment program, or if they are mandated by a court for legal purposes.
Treatment Program Evaluations
Any time a person is planning to enroll in a rehab program, the staff must have a standardized way in which to understand the individual and their circumstances. The first step is to have the facility’s team of experts assess the problem further. This assessment is intended to provide these professionals with a unique perspective into the person’s situation and uncover any concerns that he or she may need to be addressed in treatment.
Many who suffer from a co-occurring mental health condition, such as depression, erroneously believe that they must address the substance abuse problem before they can deal with the other condition. The opposite is true, however. For treatment to achieve the best outcome, these comorbid issues must be addressed and treated simultaneously.
An underlying mental health condition can worsen a person’s substance abuse challenges, making it more difficult to achieve and maintain abstinence. If not properly treated, mental health issues can also contribute to an environment in which a person new to recovery is more likely to relapse.
It is critical to remember that any information gathered during these procedures is entirely confidential. Personal details are obtained and used for the sole purpose of devising and following through with the best method of care for an individual’s unique situation.
If a court case involves suspected or confirmed substance abuse, the judge may order a drug and alcohol evaluation to be administered by an agency that is certified or licensed through the state.
These are examples of situations of convictions in which a judge might mandate an evaluation:
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Arrest for drug or alcohol possession
- Public intoxication
- Disorderly conduct
- Using a fake ID
- Minor in possession
During the evaluation, which typically lasts between 60-90 minutes, a professional who is trained in substance abuse treatment will interview the defendant and conduct an in-depth review of his or her drug or alcohol abuse history.
This evaluation is crucial because it determines if a substance use disorder is present or if there is not enough evidence to support the belief that a person is actively engaging in addictive behavior. Even in cases of the latter, an individual may still have to undergo various programs or treatment requirements as ordered by a judge.
The court may determine that a person is required to participate in some of the following activities before the evaluation:
- Random drug or alcohol urinalysis
- Risk Reduction Program (RRP) for drug use or alcohol DUI
- Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings
- Substance abuse education classes or counseling
- Addiction treatment program enrollment on either inpatient or outpatient basis
If you are in this situation, it is important to remember that although you probably did not choose these circumstances, it is beneficial for you to embrace it as much as possible and commence this process immediately. By doing so, you will demonstrate to both the judge and prosecution that you are taking the consequences of your actions seriously. It also provides you with the opportunity—albeit less than ideal—to receive the professional help that you most likely need.
You may feel ashamed of your condition and fearful of being completely honest about your substance abuse behaviors. However, you must remember that, by undergoing this evaluation, you are also taking a big step toward recovery, and ultimately, you will be the one who will benefit the most. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Just Believe Recovery offers comprehensive programs that include evidence-based therapies, including psychotherapy, counseling, group support, health and wellness, aftercare planning, and more.
Our team of caring addiction specialists is committed to providing each individual with the support they require to achieve a full recovery and experience long-term sobriety and happiness! Call us today to find out how we can help!