Courts, agencies, organizations, and private individuals use drug and alcohol evaluations to help assess drug or alcohol misuse or abuse. They are sometimes required by employers following a workplace injury, prospective employers as a condition of employment, or ordered by the court following a DUI or another illegal act involving alcohol or drugs. Addiction treatment centers may also administer a drug and alcohol assessment when determining the right level of care for a patient’s needs.
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What is a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation?
Whether they are court-ordered or administered as part of a treatment program, drug and alcohol evaluations take an in-depth view of one’s history, pattern, and scale of substance abuse to reach a diagnosis and make treatment recommendations. These evaluations seek to identify the substance used, the usage frequency, and the dosage typically used to paint a clear and accurate picture of someone’s usage history.
The information gathered during drug and alcohol evaluations can be useful in helping people control and overcome their addictions. An evaluation is the best way to obtain accurate information when understanding someone’s struggle with drugs or alcohol.
Some evaluations are ordered by the courts, while others are performed for medical purposes and a variety of less common reasons. Despite varying reasons for drug and alcohol evaluations, the way they are administered is relatively consistent across the board.
How Does It Work?
Regardless of the reason for undergoing a drug and alcohol assessment, participants can expect a similar experience from one facility to another. In most cases, an evaluation consists of the following phases:
- Initial screening – is the initial phase in which a problem is or isn’t identified. The screening goal is to identify a problem, so the answer is typically a simple “yes” or “no.”
- Assessment – After the initial screening, an assessment is performed to determine the exact nature of the problem. During this phase, a drug test may be required.
- Referral – During this phase, a treatment program or counselor may be recommended depending on the assessment results.
- Follow-up – A follow-up appointment may be needed in cases involving treatment or counseling to check up on the subject and his or her progress.
Types of Questions Asked
During a drug or alcohol screening and assessment, various questions are asked regarding personal and family substance use history, current drug or alcohol usage patterns, and physical and mental health.
A few of the most common questions include:
- Do you drink or use it socially or by yourself?
- Have you experienced sweating, tremors, or “the shakes” after not drinking or using for a certain period?
- Do you drink or use more when angry, depressed, or anxious?
- Has drinking or drug use caused you to experience legal, financial, or marital difficulties?
- Have you ever hidden your substance use?
- Have you ever missed work or essential engagements due to drinking or using?
- Has anyone suggested you cut back or quit alcohol/drug use?
Who Conducts These Evaluations?
In most cases, drug and alcohol assessments or evaluations are carried out by licensed, trained professionals specializing in addiction treatment and understanding human behavior. Psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, therapists, and social workers are just a few examples of those who commonly administer evaluations.
Due to its cut-and-dry, black-and-white nature, a drug and alcohol assessment screening phase can also be completed online. However, since it is not uncommon for a drug test or physical exam to be required, the assessment must be done in person. While most evaluations focus on questionnaires, there are separate requirements and procedures for each phase.
The screening phase of a drug and alcohol assessment is to determine if a condition needs to be treated. It can also help determine a person’s risk of drug or alcohol misuse, even if a disorder has yet to develop.
A screening, however, should not be construed as a diagnosis. It is designed to determine if a problem exists, not identify the problem itself. To do so, several different types of questionnaires are used in the screening process, including:
- Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI) – Designed to analyze someone’s level of substance abuse with an impressive accuracy rate of 93 percent, this test gives the probability of a disorder existing as well as the person’s willingness to acknowledge it and accept change. Assessors can also use it to determine the severity of the substance misuse and whether or not it is limited to recreational or social use.
- Alcohol Use Inventory (AUI) – As its name suggests, this screening questionnaire focuses solely on alcohol use and abuse. The questionnaire is structured to account for various aspects of a user’s lifestyle to provide greater context and better understand their abuse-related behavior. However, users must be open and honest in answering each question for the screening to work.
- State-Specific Inventory – In some instances, a questionnaire may be supplied by the state government. The questionnaire may be the only screening tool used, or it may be used alongside others as part of the evaluation process.
- CAGE Questionnaire – Consisting of just four simple questions regarding substance abuse, the CAGE questionnaire is the shortest. That said, each question allows for longer, more detailed answers, which means its accuracy depends almost entirely on the honesty of those being screened.
Regardless of the type of screening questionnaire used, positive results may reveal signs of a drug or alcohol use disorder. If this is the case, the next step is undergoing an assessment.
Unlike the screening phase, which aims to identify whether a problem exists, this phase dives deeper into research and analysis to pinpoint specific symptoms and better understand the condition that needs to be treated.
Practitioners also use the assessment to help determine whether there is more than one issue. It is common for co-occurring disorders to exist when dealing with alcohol or substance use. In fact, in 60 percent of substance abuse cases, the person suffering from addiction also suffers from a psychiatric illness.
The assessment is designed to provide as accurate a picture of a person’s alcohol or substance abuse disorder as possible. Therefore, several tools are available for assessors to help achieve this goal. Two of the most popular and commonly used assessment tools are:
- Addiction Severity Index – This index is regularly used to address and analyze key problem areas related to substance abuse, including alcohol use, drug use, medical status, family and social status, psychiatric status, legal status, and employment and support. Rather than examining substance abuse, the index also looks into the factors influencing it, the conditions leading to it, and more.
- Diagnostic Interview Schedule IV – This intensive questionnaire is structured according to the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders. It serves to identify whether or not the person answering meets any diagnostic criteria. Assessors can also use it to understand positive symptoms’ onset, recency, and course.
Court-Ordered Drug or Alcohol Evaluations
The court may order an alcohol evaluation for a variety of cases. However, most cases in which an alcohol and drug evaluation might be ordered involve driving under the influence, public intoxication, disorderly conduct while intoxicated, drug or alcohol possession, and drug manufacturing, distribution, or trafficking.
Similar to an alcohol evaluation, a court-ordered drug evaluation is usually issued by a judge in cases involving substance abuse. Depending on the state where the crime was committed, a drug and/or alcohol evaluation may also play a role in the sentencing procedure.
In many states, court-ordered drug or alcohol evaluations are conducted by certified state agencies. Costs vary by state, but most agencies charge a one-time fee of $100-$150 for their testing and evaluation services.
While undergoing a drug or alcohol evaluation may make you nervous about getting into more trouble, this isn’t the case. In addition to potentially benefitting you legally, it also serves as the potential beginning of the treatment process. It can also help your judge decide on the best penalty for you. Rather than jail time, the judge may recommend counseling, courses, or classes that may help you both now and in the future.
You must bring several documents when undergoing a court-ordered drug or alcohol evaluation. Some commonly required documents include:
- DMV or DDS driving history report
- Copies of arrest reports and/or criminal history
- Copy of your assessment
- Paperwork from Drug Use Risk Reduction or DUI Alcohol program (if applicable)
In addition to these documents, an interview will also take place regarding your alcohol and/or substance abuse history.
After the court-ordered drug or alcohol assessment and its analysis is finished, the judge will make a ruling based on their conclusions and those of the practitioner. Depending on the charge(s), the details of the case, and the evaluation results, the possible requirements may include:
- Participation in a Drug Use Risk Reduction or DUI Alcohol Program
- Substance abuse education classes
- Counseling or group therapy sessions
- AA/NA meetings
- Inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation program
- Random drug and alcohol testing
Get the Help You Need
Not all drug and alcohol evaluations are the same. At Allure Detox, we take great pride in the fact that we only recommend treatment to those who need it. Our experienced counselors have extensive, updated knowledge regarding available substance abuse and addiction treatment programs. They put this knowledge to use to provide proper intervention for those who need it most. While you may not be happy about coming to see us, we make it our priority to help you and change your outlook before leaving.
Suppose you, a friend, or a loved one is experiencing personal and legal troubles due to alcohol or substance abuse. In that case, a drug or alcohol assessment may be the first step to recovery and bettering your present and future. While breaking cycles and turning one’s life around can be complex, recovery is 100 percent possible. Getting arrested and in trouble with the law is an obvious sign that something must change, and it must change now.
Here at Allure Detox, we have a first-class team of dedicated counselors and therapists and all the addiction treatment resources you could need to improve your life. Please contact us today to learn more about our facilities, staff, and therapeutic services.
A detox and treatment program is a crucial first step toward improvement and recovery. We are here to help you take that step towards sobriety and becoming a healthier, happier, and improved new you.