Substance Abuse Evaluation: What It Is & Why It's Important

“A substance use disorder evaluation can help determine the severity of substance use disorder disorder in a particular individual and therefore how much it has affected his body… They help the rehab center team determine which treatment programs could increase the client’s chances of successful recovery.”

When someone suffers from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the first step to overcoming that addiction is admitting that it exists. If someone doesn’t admit to their addiction, they won’t believe treatment is necessary and will only continue their addictive lifestyle.

However, once someone admits they have an addiction and accepts the fact they need addiction treatment, they can proceed with the recovery process. One of the main parts of the drug or alcohol recovery process is the substance use disorder evaluation. Knowing more about what this evaluation is and why it is important can help addicts. It can help them see what’s happening now and what to expect in the future.

A substance use disorder disorder can weigh heavily on someone’s life. It can affect every part of their life and cause minor to more severe issues. Many people who have a substance use disorder disorder find that their condition affects their relationships, finances, physical health, mental health, life balance, and much more.

Also, more than 70,000 Americans died from a drug-involved overdose in 2019. Don’t lose your life because of alcohol or drugs. Choose to fight the fight and overcome the addiction. Let a substance use disorder evaluation help you find the proper treatment for your addiction.

Before going forward, it is important to know that some people have a court order requiring them to submit to a substance use disorder evaluation. While these people may not be quite ready to admit they have an addiction, after obtaining an evaluation and entering a rehab center treatment program, some of these people learn that they need help. They learn they can’t continue their addictive lifestyle and must find ways to make healthy changes.

Whether a court orders you to receive a substance use disorder evaluation or you are ready to overcome the addiction on your own, it is important. It can help you more than you might think.

Why Is It Important to Have a Substance Use Disorder Evaluation?

Understanding addiction and treatment is more than just reading a simple explanation. It’s impossible to say that every person who suffers from an addiction needs the same treatment. That simply isn’t true.

Each person who suffers from a drug or alcohol addiction or substance use disorder disorder has a unique background. They have their own past experiences, obstacles, and troubles that contributed to their abuse of alcohol or drugs.

A substance use disorder evaluation can help determine the severity of substance use disorder disorder in a particular individual and therefore how much it has affected his body. It can help professionals determine if a co-occurring condition is also present. A co-occurring condition includes mental or physical health issues that occur with the abuse of drugs or alcohol.

Such evaluations are helpful in assessing how substance use disorder is affecting the individual’s life. They help the rehab center team determine which treatment programs could increase the client’s chances of successful recovery.

What Can People Expect from a Substance Use Disorder Evaluation?

Knowing what to expect from a substance use disorder evaluation can help to alleviate some worries. Some people who abuse drugs or alcohol become so overwhelmed with the thought of the evaluation that it sends them back into an addictive spiral. The more someone knows what to expect, the more they can be prepared for what is to come.

One thing to know about substance use disorder evaluation is that there are two main steps. The first part is the screening process and the second is the assessment itself.

Together, both parts help the rehab center specialists create a specialized treatment plan. The screening process is used as an evaluation tool to determine if a drug or alcohol addiction is present. Generally, this results in a yes or no conclusion.

The next portion is the assessment process. This process defines what the problem is, how severe it is, what the diagnosis is, and what the recommended treatment plan will be.

Multiple people may be involved in the screening and assessment process. Some people who may be a part of this process include counselors, social workers, psychologists, therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, and rehab center specialists.

The process typically includes an interview with the person visiting the center, written assessments, health history questions, drug or alcohol abuse history questions, addictive behavior questions, and overall life history inquiries. Questionnaires used in this process include CAGE, Alcohol Use Inventory, Substance Use Disorder Subtle Screening Inventory, and state-specific inventories. There might also be a physical examination during this process.

What is the Process?

If the screening has found an addiction or substance use disorder disorder to be present, the assessment will come next. This is the portion that is much more accurate and thorough. The purpose of the assessment is to find supporting evidence of the substance use disorder disorder or alcohol or drug addiction. The assessment will begin with the interviewer going over the screening results with the interviewee. There will be questions asked to get a better perspective on that person’s alcohol or drug abuse.

There are two types of interviews that could take place – structured and semi-structured. The structured does not leave the interviewee with a chance to provide many details to the answer. This means a more detailed treatment plan may not occur at the time when the interview is finished. The semi-structured interview allows for more detailed answers. During the assessment, two of the tools that might be used are the Diagnostic Interview Schedule-IV and the Addiction Severity Index. The first is used in the structured interview and the latter being used in the semi-structured interviews.

Some people start taking their first questionnaire online. With the professional questionnaires, an account will usually need to be made. From there, if a substance use disorder disorder is determined as possible, an appointment can be made to meet with a professional from the drug or alcohol treatment center. The first assessment can also be started through a one-on-one interview with someone from a rehab center as well.

When completed in a rehab center environment, most of the time, multiple people will conduct the assessment. This assures the best treatment program and plan are chosen. It ensures the treatment best fits the individual’s needs as well. Keep in mind that the rehab center staff members only want to help you. They are doing their job to help you and others overcome their addiction. It is important to be as honest as you possibly can be during the assessment.

There may be some cases when the addict is asked to sign a waiver that allows the rehab center staff to speak with close friends and family members. These are people who have seen the addictive behaviors and who can account for the severity of the addiction.

Before entering into the rehab center, the team at the facility will need to meet with the individual. It is important that everyone is aware of the individual’s background, addictive behaviors, triggers and the treatment plan that will be put into place as well. Knowing the information from the assessment allows the rehab center team to implement the best strategies and tools into helping the individual overcome their addiction. If someone has a co-occurring disorder, for instance, everyone on the team should know about this.

Everyone should also know that the information being obtained by the rehab center is only used for creating and implementing a rehab center program that will best suit the addict’s needs. It is confidential and will only be released by permission of the patient themselves or through the court if required.

Court Order for a Substance Use Disorder Evaluation

Sometimes people get into trouble with the law due to their use of alcohol or drugs. When some people are faced with a substance use disorder charge, the judge may request a substance use disorder evaluation to determine what type of treatment they may need. In fact, this happens in most substance use disorder cases, especially with first-time offenders. The evaluation must be completed by a state-certified facility or agency. In some areas, substance use disorder evaluation and rehab facility treatment programs are required as part of the conviction.

There are many convictions in which the substance use disorder evaluation might be required per the judge’s sentencing. Some of these convictions might be Minor in Possession, Driving Under the Influence, Alcohol or Drug Possession, Public Intoxication, Disorderly Conduct or Using a Fake ID. If the judge does order a substance use disorder evaluation, it must be completed. If it isn’t, in most cases, jail time would be ordered instead. Most judges understand that substance use disorder disorders are a disease. They want to help which is why many judges have addicts submit to the evaluation and treatment, instead of just sending them directly to jail. However, if someone doesn’t cooperate and fulfill their requirement of getting the evaluation done, the judge may not have another choice.

What Should You Need to Bring to the Substance Use Disorder Evaluation?

Depending on where you are going for your substance use disorder evaluation, there are different documents and items that you might need to bring. However, there are some general requirements just about anywhere that you go for the evaluation.

You should bring along a NEEDS Assessment if you have one from a prior drug or alcohol program, the report from the DMV as to your driving record and history (at least for the past 7 years prior if you have it), a history of your arrests or criminal charges and the arresting report for the present situation.

As mentioned above, the documents needed may vary. It is always best to talk with the agency who will be completing your substance use disorder evaluation to be sure of what is needed before your appointment time.

What More Should Be Known About the Substance Use Disorder Evaluation?

There are many questions you might have about the substance use disorder evaluation. The first thing to remember is to be completely honest when you are there. It will help the evaluator to determine the proper addiction treatment placement and programs you might need to attend.

In most cases, the evaluation should last approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours. The interviewer will be trained in the treatments for substance use disorder, so they will know which questions to ask and what to listen for in your answers. This isn’t anything to be worried about. In fact, it should help to relieve your worries, knowing that a trained professional will be helping to determine the best treatment for your addiction or substance use disorder disorder. This trained professional will look carefully over all documents you brought along with you and use those, along with your answers to questions, to determine the treatment recommendations.

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Why is the Substance Use Disorder Evaluation So Important?

Anyone who has a substance use disorder disorder or an addiction to drugs or alcohol needs to get the proper treatment. Without the proper treatment, the addictive behaviors and addictive lifestyle are going to continue. The longer that goes on, the higher the risk of overdosing or having a fatal reaction to the drugs or alcohol will be. In addition, the longer the addictive lifestyle continues, the more health problems and life balance issues there will be for that person as well.

The substance use disorder evaluation is extremely important. It helps with determining whether a substance use disorder disorder or addiction is taking place. In some cases, there isn’t enough history or facts to show support of a disorder or addiction. Sometimes a criminal charge may be a one-time thing or just a bad decision that went wrong. However, there are many other cases where someone does have a substance use disorder disorder or an addiction. In those instances, the substance use disorder evaluation is going to help in determining where that person should be placed for addiction treatment. The evaluation will also help in determining what tools or programs might need to be used to help them overcome the addiction. Without the evaluation, it might just be trial and error, which only prolongs the addictive lifestyle and increases the chances of relapsing.

What Are Some Recommendations Made by the Evaluator?

Each case is different when it comes to substance use disorder and/or an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The severity of the substance use disorder, history of the person, past criminal charges and other factors come into play when the substance use disorder evaluator makes their recommendations for treatment. However, with that being said, there are some common recommendations that are often made in those who are determined to have a substance use disorder disorder or addiction to drugs or alcohol.

One of the most common recommendations made by a substance use disorder evaluator is for a treatment program stay. This might be inpatient or outpatient, depending on the severity of the substance use disorder disorder or addiction and the type of substances that have been abused. The Drug or Alcohol Risk Reduction Programs are recommended often by the evaluators as well. Other recommendations commonly include random alcohol and/or drugs urinalysis, NA or AA meetings, group counseling, individual counseling and substance use disorder education programs.

Keep in mind one thing. Although a substance use disorder disorder or addiction was not your choice, there is still something you can do about it. When the substance use disorder evaluator makes their recommendations, it is important to trust in their professionalism and experience. They know what they are doing and have already helped create a treatment program plan for many others who have a substance use disorder disorder or addiction. They can help you as well. Just be sure to follow through with the recommendations they make and start right away.

What is One Ultimate Goal of the Substance Use Disorder Evaluation?

The substance use disorder evaluation is not just to give the judge a treatment program recommendation or a treatment plan to look at. The one ultimate goal of the evaluation is to help you live a more successful and healthy lifestyle. When you take part in the recommendations given by the substance use disorder evaluator, you are putting yourself first. You are taking care of yourself and allowing yourself to overcome the substance use disorder disorder or addiction. This takes a lot of strength and courage. If you finally would like to live healthier and substance-free, be sure to take the recommendations by the substance use disorder evaluator seriously.

Many addicts or people with a substance use disorder disorder get worried after seeing the recommendations made after the substance use disorder evaluation. This is understandable and alright. However, keep in mind there are people to help you along the way. If you are worried about the financial aspect of getting treatment for the substance use disorder disorder or addiction, no insurance is accepted any many rehab centers and there are financial programs that may help if you can’t afford it as well. You might have your worries about how you will get through a treatment program when you don’t anything about recovery. The important thing to remember with this worry is there will be addiction recovery professionals at the rehab center guiding your treatment program. There will be professionals and other recovering addicts you can talk to about your concerns.

The ultimate goal is to overcome your substance use disorder disorder or addiction. Keep this in mind before, during and after the substance use disorder evaluation and you can do great.

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Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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