When facing the possibility of substance use or addiction, it’s common to feel a mix of emotions. One may feel overwhelmed, afraid, or even hopeful for change. It’s essential to understand the many avenues of support that help you or your loved one find recovery. The first step toward a successful recovery is the recognition of a problem. When someone begins engaging in drug-seeking behaviors that threaten their health or well-being, it’s time for them to seek help. Sometimes it takes an intervention or a court mandate to motivate someone suffering from an addiction. Regardless of the medium, this person will likely encounter what’s known as a addiction evaluation. This tool will inform healthcare providers in creating a customized treatment plan for the person suffering. To begin enrollment at our addiction treatment programs, contact Vertava Health today at 844.451.0263.
What Is an Addiction Evaluation?
An addiction evaluation is a clinical tool to determine what is going on with a person struggling with addiction. Additionally, an evaluation may include questions that can identify any coexisting conditions that need co-occurring disorder treatment. An addiction evaluation can also:
- Assess the magnitude of a person’s drug or alcohol addiction
- Determine if there are any co-occurring concerns
- Evaluate the extent to which substance use has affected everyday life
- Impart a general idea of the person and their history related to drug use and general health concerns.
What to Expect During an Evaluation
Addiction evaluations are typically divided into two parts: an initial screening followed by a more holistic assessment that helps to determine the next course of action. During the screening, we determine whether or not there is a possibility of a substance use problem. The results are a simple yes or no. The next step is the assessment, which defines the problem, helps determine any possible diagnosis, and provides recommendations for a customized treatment plan.
Both of these diagnostic steps can be administered by different types of professionals. While screening may be given by an entry-level professional, assessments require a social worker, therapist, doctor, or nurse’s administration. An assessment can be gathered and recorded through discussion, interview-style questions, or written responses. During this time, the person may be asked questions about their health, drug and alcohol usage history, and history of possible treatment.
Screening for Substance Use Disorders
Screening is an initial evaluation that assists with a professional determining if the person’s current situation requires further action. This is a critical element of the assessment, as it can lead to proactive care methods that could prevent the substance use disorder from progressing further. Some of the most commonly used screening tools can be given online or in person and can include the following:
Perhaps the most commonly used method, this questionnaire asks four questions in relation to a person’s drinking patterns. The questions form the acronym CAGE and ask the following:
- Have you ever felt you needed to Cut down on your drinking?
- Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Do you ever feel Guilty about drinking?
- Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
SASSI (Substance Use Subtle Screening Inventory)
An inventory is defined as an easily-administered psychological screening. It helps identify individuals who have a high probability of substance dependence disorder. This screening instrument can predict the likelihood of a substance use disorder and provide clinicians with evidence of any defensiveness or willingness to admit an issue. This inventory can also help a treatment team understand the significance of someone’s use and if their usage surpasses social drinking or recreational drug use levels.
State Specific Inventories
Some states have specific screening tools that may be required either in addition to or instead of the aforementioned tools. Although some tools can be taken by the person themselves, it can be valuable to have a medical professional or addictions specialist review or administer the screening tool. This process is the first step in the recovery process, and a specialist’s expertise can provide the vital support and direction you may need.
Assessment for Substance Use Disorders
Assessments are a more in-depth evaluation of a person’s issues with addiction. Assessments identify patterns around someone’s substance-related behaviors to find specific evidence of possible addiction and make a diagnosis. Typically, a diagnostic interview will occur, wherein the interviewer asks questions related to the screening to understand the individual’s substance use. This can be achieved through either a structured interview or a semi-structured interview.
What to Expect At a Structured Interview
In a structured interview, the interviewer will be reading from a pre-determined and structured set of questions. This may be utilized by someone who does not have a long professional history. The results, while informative, may not yield enough detail to create a personalized treatment plan. In a semi-structured interview, an expert in psychology or addiction asks similarly structured questions, but they can add questions based on their professional knowledge. This often results in a more detailed representation of a person’s drug or alcohol use.
One of the most common tools is the Diagnostic Interview Schedule-IV (DIS-IV). This fully structured assessment tool determines the presence of a diagnosis from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Some consider this tool to be restrictive, as its assessment is based on the DSM-IV and may not consider newer research or theories. This could affect the level of insight a clinician gains into the person’s circumstances.
Another common tool is the Addiction Severity Index (ASI). This semi-structured interview examines seven potential areas of concern, including:
- Medical status
- Employment and support
- Drug use
- Alcohol use
- Legal status
- Family/social status
- Psychiatric status
The interview collects data regarding drug or alcohol use in the past thirty days and lifetime substance use patterns.
Court-Ordered Drug and Alcohol Evaluations
A judge may order a drug and alcohol evaluation through a state-certified agency when a legal case involves substance use. Some of the convictions that a judge may request an evaluation for are as follows:
- DUI (driving under the influence)
- DWI (driving while intoxicated)
- MIP (minor in possession)
- Public intoxication
- Disorderly conduct
- Possession of false identification
In this type of evaluation, a trained professional will review your drug or alcohol history with you. They will then determine if a substance use disorder is present. It’s essential to be as honest as possible throughout this process, even if the truth feels uncomfortable. While you may experience feelings of shame or embarrassment, it’s essential to understand that the interviewers and counselors are there to help you discover the path to recovery as quickly and as safely as possible.
Depending on the case results, you may be required to complete recovery-related programs, such as a Drug Use Risk Reduction Program, AA or NA meetings, or an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Seek Addiction Treatment at Vertava Health
If substance use has started to take control of your life or the life of someone you love, we encourage you to reach out for support. Diagnosing an addiction can be an overwhelming process. Please remember that there is ample support available to assist you and your loved one as you take the first steps in rebuilding your life and the life of your family. Contact Vertava Health today at 844.451.0263 with any questions or concerns you may have regarding addiction, substance use, or recovery.