What Is a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation? – A drug and alcohol evaluation, also sometimes referred to as a substance abuse evaluation, is used to determine the severity of a person’s addiction. Likewise, a drug and alcohol evaluation is needed in order to develop an effective treatment plan that is customized to the needs of each individual, and give him or her the best possible chance at recovery.
Substance abuse or addiction can impact a person’s life profoundly, and result in serious damage to their physical and emotional health, career, finances, and close relationships. When a person has arrived at this point and is in need of professional help, they may be confronted with a drug and alcohol evaluation. This evaluation is a tool used to help ascertain the presence and extent of a person’s abuse of drugs or alcohol and to determine what treatment a person should receive in order to achieve the best outcome.
Purpose of a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation
An evaluation is intended to do the following:
- Determine if the person has drug and/or alcohol addiction
- Evaluate the intensity of substance abuse or addiction
- Identify any co-occurring conditions, including physical or mental health concerns
- Assess the extent to which the substance abuse impacts the person’s life
- Afford an understanding of the person and individual circumstances so that the treatment team may design a treatment plan that is best suited to their needs, goals, and recovery
What to Expect
A drug and alcohol evaluation is broken down into two steps: screening and assessment. A screening is a process used to identify the presence of a problem with substance use. Assessment is a process for analyzing the nature of that problem, determining a diagnosis, and designing specific treatment recommendations to address that problem.
These elements may be administered by a wide range of people, many of whom are trained to evaluate for addiction. The persons involved in some manner may be social workers, counselors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, etc. Through interviews, these persons will inquire about a person’s health history, past and present drug and/or alcohol use, the ways in which it has affected his or her life, and any prior history of treatment for these concerns.
Substance Abuse Screening
The screening is a preparatory exam that helps the interviewer determine if there are circumstances present that justify a more in-depth inquiry. Screening is the first step in helping a person to see if drug or alcohol abuse or addiction is present. The screening may be administered online or in person.
The following are two examples of some of the most commonly used tools for screening purposes:
Drug and Alcohol Assessment
The assessment of a person who likely has a substance abuse problem is more in-depth. Its purpose is to identify clear evidence that supports either the absence or presence of drug or alcohol addiction.
At this point, a diagnostic interview is conducted. The interviewer will go over the results of the screening and ask more questions in an effort to get a broader picture of the individual’s drug or alcohol abuse. A person might find him or herself in the position of undergoing an evaluation if they decide to take the first steps toward entering a rehab program, or if they are mandated by a court.
Two commonly used tools in the assessment process are:
- Diagnostic Interview Schedule-IV (DIS-IV)
- Addiction Severity Index (ASI)
Treatment Program Evaluations
Any time an individual is planning to enroll in an addiction treatment program, staff must have a standardized way to understand the person and their specific circumstances. The first step is for the person to have their drug or alcohol abuse problem assessed by the facility’s team of experts. This evaluation gives these professional a unique perspective into the person’s situation and uncovers any specific concerns that he or she may need to have addressed in treatment.
Some people who suffer from a co-occurring mental health disorder, such as depression, falsely believe that they must deal with the substance abuse problem before they can address this other condition. However, the opposite is true—in order for treatment to achieve the best outcome, it is vital that these co-occurring issues be addressed and treated at the same time.
Mental illness can exacerbate a person’s substance abuse challenges, making it harder to achieve abstinence. If not properly addressed, mental health concerns can also contribute to an environment in which a newly sober individual is more likely to relapse.
It is important to remember that any information obtained during these procedures is confidential. Personal details are used for the sole purpose of creating and following through with the best method of care for your unique situation.
If a case involves suspected or confirmed substance abuse, the judge may order a drug and alcohol evaluation administered by an agency that is certified through the state.
These are examples of situations or convictions where a judge might mandate an evaluation:
- Public intoxication
- Disorderly conduct
- Using a fake ID
- Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol
- Minor in possession (MIP)
- Arrest for drug or alcohol possession
During the evaluation, which usually takes between 60-90 minutes, a person who is trained in substance abuse treatment will interview the defendant and perform a comprehensive review of his or her substance abuse history.
This evaluation is essential because it determines if a chronic substance use disorder is present or if there may not be enough evidence to support the belief that a person is experiencing one. Even in cases of the latter, in many states, a person may still have to undergo various programs or treatment responsibilities as ordered by the court.
The court may determine that a person requires some of these activities before the evaluation:
- DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (RRP)
- Random drug or alcohol urinalysis
- Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings
- Substance abuse education classes
- Substance abuse counseling
- Addiction treatment program enrollment, either inpatient or outpatient
If this is your situation, it is vital to remember that although you did not choose these circumstances, it is most beneficial for you to commence this process immediately. By doing so, you will show to the judge and prosecution that you are taking the consequences of your actions seriously. It also allows you the opportunity to receive the help that you most likely need.
You might feel ashamed of your condition and not inclined to be completely honest about your substance use behaviors. However, you must remember that, by taking this evaluation, you are making a big step toward recovery, and you will be the one who will benefit the most. You have nothing to lose by trying, and everything to gain.
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, contact us today to discuss treatment options. Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive programs that include evidence-based therapies, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and aftercare planning.
Our team of addiction specialists is dedicated to providing each client with the tools they need to achieve a full recovery and experience long-term happiness and sobriety!
Related: Alcohol and Anxiety Disorders