May 19, 2021

What is Substance Abuse Evaluation?

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Medicially Reviewed By:
Dr. Priya Chaudhri
credentials here

When You Notice Signs of a Substance Use Problem it is Best to be Assessed and Treated as Early as You Can.

If your substance use has begun to get away from you it is likely time to get a read on it. An addiction expert can walk you through the steps of an evaluation. This is a two-pronged process through which the clinician will determine the stage of the substance use disorder (SUD).

When the signs and symptoms of a drug or alcohol problem arise the effects on your life can be immense. A SUD can impact your relationships, your career, your finances, and your health.

A substance abuse evaluation can be something that you seek out on your own when you become concerned about the substance abuse. Also, getting assessed sometimes results from a request made by a loved one or a spouse. This may also be requested by an employer or mandated by a court of law.

Once the SUD is assessed the next step involves learning what level of care is needed. This is determined by how severe the SUD is. There are many options for treatment, and they will be discussed once the SUD has been assessed. From there, a treatment plan that is unique to your SUD and its features will be devised.

In a substantial number of people with SUDs, a co-occurring mental health challenge is also present. The screening tools are designed to reveal whether there is a coexisting mood disorder.

It is crucial that this aspect of diagnosis be addressed and treated along with the SUD in the treatment planning. Until the mental health disorder is managed, no progress can be made in treating the SUD.

Types of Assessment During SUD Evaluation

To assess someone’s substance abuse status an addiction expert will use certain screening tools during the evaluation process. The first step of the screening can help the clinician know if the person has an SUD and would require further assessment. The next steps in the process then explore the degree of the SUD.

Step One: Screening tools.

There are many different screening tools used by providers to see if a person has a substance problem that might require treatment. It is very important that the person answer the questions honestly. That is the only way to get a true read on the level of SUD. These tools include:

  • CAGE. This is a short screening tool with just four questions that is for people who have a drinking problem.
  • SASSI. A self-assessment that is very accurate for screening for substance dependence.
  • TAPS. A more detailed screening tool that can be given online or face to face.
  • BSTAD. This screening tool is designed for teen substance abuse.

Sometimes the person will be asked to provide a urine sample to see if there is a substance in their system. When the results of the screening tool suggest that the person has an SUD, they will then move forward to be further assessed.

Step Two: Assessment process.

This step of the evaluation process explores the patient history in much greater detail. This step is focused on an interview to help determine just how severe the SUD might be and what treatment is indicated.

  • SCID-5. This is a highly structured interview where the provider sticks to a scripted question and answer session. The goal of the SCID-5 is to see if the person has a SUD based on the criteria of the DSM-5.
  • ASI. This is a semi-structured interview, which allows the provider to ask more pointed questions. This helps the provider to gauge how severe the SUD is, and to explore treatment options.

In some cases, the provider may ask to speak with the patient’s spouse or family members to get a better picture. These loved ones can fill in the blanks and help describe how the SUD is impacting the patient’s daily life.

How the Evaluation Findings Help Direct Treatment

The findings of the screening and interviews will help assess the level of SUD severity. If the person is found to have a mild SUD they will be referred to an outpatient program. These offer counseling and classes that can help someone self-correct at an early stage.

If the findings show a more entrenched SUD they will discuss more intense treatment options. This includes either an IOP, a PHP, or an inpatient rehab, with the latter being the most intensive. Programs vary in duration from one month to a year, based on the level of SUD.

From the results of the assessment a tailored treatment plan will be designed. Each person has unique recovery needs and will set their goals at the outset. The treatment plan will address the SUD and any features involved, as well as any co-occurring mental health challenge.

What is Dual Diagnosis Treatment?

A high number of people with an SUD also struggle with a mental health disorder. The most common mental health issues are depression and anxiety. In some patients, the mental health disorder is what led to the SUD. In others the problems that sprung from the SUD led to the mental health disorder.

Dual diagnosis treatment covers both realms during the treatment process. The program will include expert psychiatric treatment as well as the addiction treatment. Those with a co-occurring mental health challenge will have a more complex treatment picture, often including meds. This can help manage the symptoms, help the person to remain stable while being engaged in the treatment process.

Elevation Behavioral Health Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program that also treats SUD. Sometimes a SUD assessment points to both a substance problem and a co-occurring mental health challenge. If this is the case it is crucial that both issues are treated through a dual diagnosis treatment program. Break free from co-occurring disorders in a tranquil, peaceful setting while working on your SUD. Reach out to the team today at (888) 561-0868.

Our team of experts is here to help you.