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Substance Abuse Evaluation

Substance abuse or addiction can deeply affect a person on many levels, causing damage to their body, mind, and relationships. Sometimes—in certain circumstances—when a person’s substance use has gotten out of control, they may find themselves engaging in activities that endanger themselves, their health, or that of others.

When a person has reached this point and they need help, either as mandated through the court, by choice, or through an intervention, they will commonly be faced with a substance abuse evaluation. This evaluation is a tool used to help determine the extent of a person’s misuse and abuse of drugs or alcohol and to determine how to go about treating a person to achieve the greatest success.

The Purpose Of A Substance Abuse Evaluation

An evaluation does these things:

  • Determines if the individual has a drug or alcohol addiction

  • Assesses the extent of the substance use or addiction

  • Discerns if there are any co-occurring conditions, including any physical or mental health concerns, or any other drug use

  • Assesses the extent by which the substance use affects the person’s life

  • Provides an understanding of the person and their circumstances so that the team may establish a baseline and build a treatment plan that is best suited for their needs and recovery

What To Expect In An Evaluation

An evaluation is broken down into two steps: a screening and an assessment. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines them as:

  • Screening is a process for evaluating the possible presence of a particular problem. The outcome is normally a simple yes or no.

  • Assessment is a process for defining the nature of that problem, determining a diagnosis, and developing specific treatment recommendations for addressing the problem or diagnosis.

The counselor will, through written assessments and interviews, inquire about your health history, past and present drug and/or alcohol use, the manner and behaviors by which it affected your life, and any history of treatment for these concerns. 

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