What is a Substance Abuse Evaluation?

substance abuse evaluation

There are a variety of reasons why someone might find themselves being assessed for a drug or alcohol use disorder. So, what is a substance abuse evaluation and what can you expect?

What Is a Substance Abuse Evaluation?

When drug or alcohol use gets out of hand, it can lead to a cascade of negative consequences. Perhaps the person was arrested for a DUI or lost their job due to substance abuse. Maybe their health is failing, or the person is tired of dealing with hangovers and withdrawals. For whatever reason, he or she is now ready to address the problem.

Prior to starting the treatment program, there must be a thorough substance abuse evaluation completed. These sessions may take up to two hours, as the clinician conducting it will need to get an accurate assessment of the substance problem. 

During this meeting, the person will be asked to participate in various activities that provide important details about their substance use, health, and mental health.  These include:

  • Interview. An intake interview is conducted, during which a clinician asks questions to pinpoint the exact nature and severity of the substance use disorder. Questions about the specific substance and daily consumption habits help in this regard. During the interview, the clinician will detect if there are any mental health factors involved. Other areas also discussed include family life, relationships, and work. All of this data helps clinicians create a tailored treatment plan.
  • Questionnaire. The person will be asked to complete the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory questionnaire. This tool gets to the heart of the substance use and any prior addiction treatment history. Included are health and mental health history, any current symptoms, and questions about how substance use has impacted daily life.
  • Screening tools. There are various screening tools available to obtain a more detailed look at the substance use issues. Clinicians select which tools to use based on what was gleaned from the interview and questionnaire.
  • Health exam. A physical exam and labs may be ordered to help rule out health issues that could complicate treatment.
  • Psychiatric exam. If a co-occurring mental health disorder is present, the intake clinician might request a psych evaluation. This helps further tailor the treatment plan to include dual diagnosis interventions.
  • Drug screening. In some instances, a urine sample may be requested at the time of the evaluation. The drug-screening test can identify which substances might be in the person’s system. The results of the drug screening help to confirm the information that was provided by the person.

Who Needs to Have a Substance Abuse Evaluation?

There are many reasons why someone would be engaged in a substance use evaluation. These include:

  • It was court ordered as a condition of parole, child custody, or DUI arrest.
  • It was requested by an employer after testing positive on a drug screening.
  • It was voluntary, as a first step for seeking treatment due to the mounting consequences caused by addiction.
  • It was recommended after an overdose.
  • It was recommended by a doctor after noting signs and symptoms of addiction at a visit for another health issue.

What Types of Screening Tools Are Used?

Clinicians have access to a wide assortment of screening tools to help them measure the severity of the addiction. These include:

  • CAGE assessment.
  • National Institute on Drug Use screening tool.
  • Addiction Severity Index.
  • Alcohol Use Inventory.

How Is a Treatment Plan Created?

After all the data is reviewed, the clinical team arrives at a customized treatment plan for the person. The plan takes into account all areas of the person’s life and how the substance abuse has adversely affected them.

A treatment plan starts by identifying the diagnosis, and noting the evidence and test results that support it. It then creates a list of recovery goals that the person has said they wish to achieve. And finally, the plan will state the objectives and preferred interventions. These are the benchmarks that will guide their treatment from beginning to end.

What Are the Levels of Care For Substance Use Disorder?

The substance abuse evaluation helps the clinical team determine the level of care that would best suit the person’s needs. There are two main types of treatment settings, but within these are levels of care:

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Outpatient treatment. Outpatient addiction treatment is available in three levels of care: basic outpatient (used mostly as a step-down after completing an IOP), intensive outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs.

Residential treatment. Residential treatment programs provide on-site housing and 24-hour support. These programs are best for a person with a moderate to severe substance use disorder.

Each patient’s recovery goals are reached via the following:

Evidence-based therapy: The type of therapy used is based on each person’s customized treatment plan. Effective therapies include CBT, DBT, MET, and contingency management. All of these therapies assist the person in changing unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that have kept them captive in the addiction cycle.

Group sessions. Peer group therapy sessions are an important source of support. These sessions offer the participants a supportive space where they can share their stories and practice new skills.

12-Step. The benchmarks outlined in A.A.’s 12-Step program provide guidance in the early months of recovery. Meetings are often included in treatment programs.

Classes. To succeed in recovery, coping tools are taught that equip clients with new skills to help them sustain sobriety. Life skills and relapse prevention planning are other helpful tools learned in these classes.

If you were asking, “What is a substance abuse evaluation?” you hopefully have a better idea of what is involved now. If you or someone you care about is showing signs of substance abuse, please reach out for help today.

Annandale Behavioral Health Provides Substance Abuse Evaluation

Annandale Behavioral Health offers comprehensive treatment services for those who struggle with a substance issue. After a careful substance abuse evaluation, our clinical team will design a tailored treatment plan just for you. Please contact the team today at (855) 778-8668.