Drug And Alcohol Assessment: What To Expect

Drug and alcohol assessment is performed by addiction treatment facilities at intake. These assessments serve to identify substance use disorders, learn your medical history and history of substance abuse, and create an individualized treatment plan.

A drug and alcohol assessment typically involves a thorough review of a person’s substance use history, including related physical or mental health conditions.

The assessment may also include laboratory tests, a physical exam, and psychological testing to understand the nature of the individual’s substance use.

Drug and alcohol assessment results help the assessor determine the patient’s needs, the severity of addiction, and the required level of care.

The Purpose Of A Drug And Alcohol Assessment

Addiction treatment assessment identifies a person’s interest and readiness for treatment and identifies suitable treatment options.

Substance abuse evaluation also provides information on the patient’s family history and the kind of support they have at home.

All the information obtained in the assessment process is kept confidential.

Identifying Substance Use Disorders

A substance use disorder assessment provides a clinical diagnosis of substance use disorders and recommendations for the appropriate level of care.

Common levels of care include:

Additional factors, such as your day-to-day responsibilities and any co-occurring conditions may also inform the recommended level of care.

Determining The Severity Of Substance Abuse

The assessment severity index (ASI) is a screening tool that screens for issues that commonly accompany substance abuse problems.

These may include difficulty in relationships with family and friends, medical conditions such as HIV/AIDs, hepatitis B and C, and legal problems.

The ASI allows the clinician to assess how much using drugs or alcohol has affected the patient’s life.

Based on questions asked to the patient, the clinician calculates a score, which becomes the basis for crafting an individualized treatment plan.

Starting With Your History

An assessment will often start with your history, including family medical history, personal medical history, and substance use.

Family Medical History (Including Substance Abuse)

A clinician may give you a questionnaire that asks about your family members’ medical history.

This may include instances of alcohol or drug use, chronic diseases, and mental health disorders
that your family members have been diagnosed with over the past few generations.

Personal Medical History

A substance abuse assessment will also contain a questionnaire about your personal medical history.

This may include an in-depth report of surgeries, previous medical diagnoses, a drug or alcohol use disorder diagnosis, a history of mental health disorders, and medications you are currently taking or have previously taken.

Personal Patterns Of Substance Use

A drug or alcohol evaluation will assess your personal patterns of substance use.

Identifying patterns of drug or alcohol abuse can help clinicians and patients understand their drug or alcohol addiction on a deeper level.

Whether use increases with stress, in certain situations, or around certain people will help the patient and clinician determine the triggers that contribute to continued substance use.

Moving Onto The Initial Evaluation

The initial evaluation begins once the information of a person’s medical history and substance
use history is taken.

This involves a mental health assessment, assessing withdrawal risk, and a physical health examination.

Mental Health Assessment

A mental health assessment often features a questionnaire and thorough interview with a health care provider.

Dual diagnoses of mental health disorders are common with addiction. Around half the people living with addiction also have co-occurring mental health disorders.

A mental health assessment gives a clinician a view into how you think, feel, and reason. This assessment will also gauge your emotional well-being.

A mental health assessment is also designed to diagnose various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

Assessing For Withdrawal Risk

In the days and weeks following the cessation of substance use, individuals may experience acute withdrawal symptoms, which may be mild to severe depending on your personal history of drug use.

Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, dangerous.

Severe withdrawal, such as alcohol withdrawal syndrome, can cause seizures, hallucinations, tremors, vomiting, fast heart rate, and heart attack.

Assessing a patient’s withdrawal risk can prepare the treatment team for better symptom management and allow the individual to stop using the substance safely.

Physical Health Examination

A physical health examination is performed during the initial evaluation to determine co-occurring conditions that may require medical care.

These conditions may include heart disease, cirrhosis, and other forms of organ damage, which can be caused by prolonged substance use.

Determining An Initial Treatment Plan

After completing the assessment, your treatment team will create an initial treatment plan.

The treatment plan may include various therapies, including evidence-based treatments such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), medication management, and other therapies.

Your treatment program may change over time depending on how you respond to the treatment.

Learn How To Start Your Addiction Recovery At Spring Hill

If you or a loved one are looking to start your addiction recovery journey, we can help. Contact Spring Hill Recovery Center to learn more about our treatment centers and programs.

  1. Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/dualdiagnosis.html/
  2. National Centre on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare https://ncsacw.acf.hhs.gov/files/tips-screening-assessment-508.pdf/
  3. National Library of Medicine: Bookshelf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64828/#:~:text=Through%20a%20combination%20of%20clinical,treatment%2C%20and%20feasible%20treatment%20option./
  4. National Library of Medicine: Bookshelf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310659/
  5. National Library of Medicine: Bookshelf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK83243/
  6. National Library of Medicine: Bookshelf https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459239/
  7. National Library of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797097/#:~:text=The%20Addiction%20Severity%20Index,-The%20ASI%20(McLellan&text=The%20semi-structured%20ASI%20evaluates,and%20(7)%20psychiatric%20disorders./
  8. National Library of Medicine: PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6905615/
  9. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/pep19-screen-codjs.pdf/
  10. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/sma10-4554.pdf/
  11. Victoria Australia https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/assessments-and-evaluations-for-mental-illness-treatment/

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

Published on: January 18, 2024

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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