What is a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation?
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An evaluation or assessment for the clinical treatment of a substance abuse disorder is often essential. A professional assessor or evaluator will give you questionnaires, talk to you, and possibly do a physical evaluation to determine your current physical health.
The individual will also work to determine if you have any physical impairments that need to be addressed in treatment. The assessment will help to gauge the severity of your addiction disorder. Every evaluation should have a mental health screening as well as a physical health screening. At Free by the Sea, we are ready and able to help you with your evaluation and your treatment as a whole.
The Importance of Honesty in a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation
It is very important that you are as honest and open as you can be during your assessment. Often, people experience feelings of shame or guilt due to their substance disorder. This might lead to the temptation to be dishonest.
However, dishonesty might prevent you from getting into a treatment plan that offers the help you need. For instance, you may end up enrolling in an intensive outpatient program (IOP) when you might need residential treatment. If you go to a less structured program than you need, you will not have the tools you need. This may hinder you on your journey to recovery.
What Happens During A Physical Assessment for Addiction Treatment?
During your evaluation, you might expect to encounter the following:
- Urine test
- Inventory of what medications you might be taking
- Pregnancy test or asking if you are pregnant
- Blood tests to check for any illness like HIV or Hepatitis C that you might have contracted
The evaluator may also measure your height and weight. Medication dosage often depends at least partially on a person’s weight. Even if you do not have another mental health condition in addition to your substance abuse disorder and you do not need psychiatric medication, your weight can still be a factor in other medical areas. This may especially be the case if you have an untreated infection or a chronic disorder like lupus or cerebral palsy, which require specialized medication.
What Will My Evaluator Ask Me During My Drug and Alcohol Evaluation Interview?
Your assessor will also give you questionnaires to answer, some of which might only be as long as six questions. Most of the questionnaires only require a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Some questionnaires might be longer and/or require longer answers. Some questionnaires ask questions similar to the ones below:
- How long have you been struggling with substance abuse?
- Have you experienced some sort of trauma in your life?
- Do you have family members who have addiction disorders?
- Which substance(s) you have been using?
Your evaluation will also take into account your cultural background, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other important facets of your life. The professional will also inform your treatment team so that they can form the best possible treatment plan for you.
All of these things have influenced your life and will continue to influence it even when you are on a lasting road to recovery. All important parts of your life have to be accounted for in order for you to receive proper holistic treatment and to start fully healing.
What To Expect in Discussion
One of the most important things that you can let your evaluator know is if you abuse more than one substance at the same time. Being addicted to more than one substance at a time is known as polysubstance abuse.
Polysubstance abuse is more complex to treat than if you are only abusing a single substance. Detoxing from multiple substances at the same time can be quite intense. This phase of treatment is an essential first step towards starting your road to recovery. But, it works best if the medical professionals performing the detox process have all of the necessary information beforehand.
It’s also important to note that detoxing from substances can be uncomfortable at times. However, the safety of around-the-clock medical care during detox minimizes any risks and discomfort.
Another topic of discussion is trauma. It is a common reason why many people turn to substance abuse in the first place. So, your evaluator may need to discuss with you any traumatic experiences in your life in order to properly assess your situation.
While you still might feel uncomfortable talking about the trauma, this is the best time to confide in someone. If the assessor knows that you have experienced trauma, your treatment team will be able to develop a treatment plan that works best for you. This plan will likely involve working on the effects of trauma so that the pain from what happened doesn’t overwhelmingly push you back to using substances to find relief.
Who Looks at a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation Report?
A good treatment team will take your evaluator’s recommendations into account while compiling a treatment plan as you start your road to recovery. As you start to heal, your treatment team will also revise your treatment plan along the way in order to help you continue healing.
The assessor needs a clear and complete understanding of who you are mentally, physically, and emotionally. This allows them to know what you need in order to start healing.
If the assessor deems it necessary, you might need to go through a longer questionnaire about your mental health. It is very important to answer those questions honestly as well. However, most professionals wait until thirty days after you have stopped taking substances to fully probe into your mental health. Often, the problems an addiction disorder brings to your life will mask at least some of the symptoms caused by any other mental health disorder.
One of the most important evaluations is whether or not you are a risk to yourself and/or others. Withdrawal from substance use in addition to therapy or counseling can be stressful. Sometimes, people will react very negatively to some of the challenges of starting a road to recovery. Other times, people may have an underlying mental health condition that causes aggression due to the stress of leaving the path of addiction.
It is important to remember that many substances can lead to self-harm and/or violence towards others. Screening for possible physical reactions helps keep everyone safe.
The Involvement of Family and Friends
In order for your evaluation to be complete, your evaluator might reach out to family, friends, and others who know you well. But this will likely only happen if your assessor has your permission.
From the outside looking in, these people often have a very clear view of some aspects of your personality that might have changed for the worse since you began abusing drugs or alcohol. They may also provide the evaluator with other valuable information such as a medical history if one is not otherwise available and you are not able to provide one for whatever reason.
They might also have their own insight into any trauma you might have. Your loved ones can inform the assessor of the changes they saw and what happened if you are unable to fully talk about it.
Get the Help You Need Today
Evaluators will also document your current strengths and skills. It is important for your treatment team to know about the areas where you excel. This allows them to create a plan that will build on those skills and strengths while addressing your needs and weaknesses.
It is important to find ways to modify the weaknesses so that they are either fixed, regulated, or you and your team might find workarounds for any weakness that cannot be fixed or regulated.
Clinical treatment is the best way to start a lasting road to recovery. Recovery might seem like a long, hard process and, in some aspects, it may be. However, the rewards are incomparable! There are so many things to regain and positive new experiences to be had once you leave your path of addiction.
Seeking treatment for addiction may be a challenge for you. After all, it is never easy to admit that you need help. But, please know that there is no need to feel shame in reaching out. In fact, doing so requires courage and bravery. So, making the decision to take that step shows a true sense of strength!
You don’t have to face addiction recovery on your own. We’re here to help you at Free by the Sea. Located in the state of Washington, our facility is a place where you can find the freedom you truly deserve. So, when you are ready for a drug and alcohol evaluation and begin your journey to freedom through addiction recovery, contact us here at Free by the Sea.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.