1. What is A Substance Abuse Evaluation?
For most people dealing with substance abuse, an evaluation, especially when conducted by a professional, is an unpleasant process. Opening up your soul to show your inner struggles to a stranger is difficult.
The goal of the evaluation process is for the addiction counselor to determine whether the individual is abusing substances, is dependent on substances, or there is a potential to abuse substances.
The evaluation process usually involves two phases – screening and assessment. There are also a variety of tools that can be used during the evaluation process. The goal is to address the person’s individual needs and discover essential information that will help them with their addiction.
There is a difference between the process of screening and the process of assessment. Screening is the initial evaluation which reveals whether the individual is facing a particular problem. With screening, the counselor will determine whether the person needs an assessment. The aim of the assessment is to dig deeper into the causes and the nature of the problem, and determine individual diagnosis and treatment. This evaluation provides information on the patient’s substance abuse history, family connections, possible work issues and much more.
Additionally, substance abuse evaluation can be required as a part of the admission process before entering rehab, facing DUI charges, and other legal issues. The information given throughout the evaluation is confidential, with some exceptions such as child abuse, or elders mistreatment.
2. The Importance of A Substance Abuse Evaluation
Many people who dependend on drugs or alcohol aren’t aware of the situation they go through, and are in constant denial. The evaluation will hopefully help these people see their reality.
A substance abuse evaluation will determine the level of dependence and the right treatment approach. One can voluntarily approach evaluation, but in some cases, the assessment is a result of an intervention. Meaning, an appointment is required.
Furthermore, it is important to remember that evaluation is a tool that helps addicts discover the level of abuse. Therefore, the person undergoing the evaluation should be honest and reveal all necessary information.
3. What to Expect?
As we have previously said, before you start the evaluation process, you will feel nervous and a little bit embarrassed. However, evaluation can be a positive experience. Think about it as the necessary step towards recovery – which it really is. The information you will give are confidential and you might feel a little bit worried exposing situations you might not be proud of.
During the assessment, it will also be determined whether the person has a mental illness of any kind while establishing the root for one’s future therapy. The screening and assessment are usually conducted by an addiction counselor, a therapist, a social worker, a doctor or a nurse. At the screening and accession meeting, you will be asked to answer many questions connected to substance abuse, health history, physical or mental abuse, as well as other substance abuse related or unrelated questions.
#1 Screening tools
Screening is a preliminary evaluation that serves the examiner to determine whether the individual has a problem. The following are the most commonly used screening tools:
According to NIAAA, SASSI is a “brief self-report, easily administered psychological screening measure that is available in separate versions for adults and adolescents.” The test is a single-page questionnaire with 52 questions unrelated to abuse on one side, and Risk Predictions Scales, a self-report on abuse-related questions on the other side.
Therefore, “the SASSI includes both face valid and subtle items that have no apparent relationship to substance use. The subtle items are included to identify some individuals with alcohol and other drug problems who are unwilling or unable to acknowledge substance misuse or symptoms associated with it.”
Furthermore, according to NIAAA, “the AUI is a set of 24 scales designed to measure different features of involvement with the use of alcohol. The AUI scales provide operational indicators for important constructs of a multiple-condition theory about the use and abuse of alcohol.”
Cage questionnaire is a commonly used test that contains only four short questions.
#2 Assessment tools
Assessment helps the counselor to make an in-depth evaluation and determine the causes, history, and treatment for possible abuse or dependency.
Diagnostic Interview Schedule-IV (DIS-IV)
According to NIAAA, the test “contains 28 structured questions which serve the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse and dependence. In addition to determining whether criteria for diagnosis are met, information is gained about the course, onset, and recency of positive symptoms.” The interview is one of the most widely used because it offers diagnoses not only on drug and alcohol dependency but also schizophrenia, gambling, and many other mental illnesses.
The test covers general information, medical status, employment/support status, alcohol/drugs, legal status, family, and also psychiatric status and it is the most widely used in clients that enter treatment. The interview covers many areas of the person’s life, which helps the addiction counselor to get a better image of one’s situation.
After the evaluation process is completed, the counselor will label you in some of these categories:
- Dependent on Drugs or Alcohol (followed by a recommendation of intensive inpatient treatment)
- Drug or Alcohol Abuse, or Potential Abuse (followed by recommendation of inpatient, outpatient treatment or counseling)
- No evidence of Drug or Alcohol Abuse
It is up to you whether you will decide to follow the recommendations made by the addiction counselor following the substance abuse evaluation. And we are not talking about the cases when you are legally obliged to follow them.
You can undergo a self-assessment by taking an online test. However, the test doesn’t compare to the evaluation made by certified professionals.
Substance abuse evaluation can be an exhausting process. The mental pressure about revealing personal information can lead to you being dishonest about some things. So, it is crucial to understand that this process is the initial step towards successful recovery and addiction-free life. Prepare mentally for the test and help yourself by being honest.
For more information please call our Addiction Treatment Helpline at (844) 439-4765. This is a Free and completely confidential call. We are available 24/7. In many cases, your health insurance company will cover 100% of the treatment cost. So please call now.