5 Steps to Completing a Substance Abuse Assessment

Who needs Substance Abuse Assessments?

Substance abuse assessments are conducted for various reasons and under specific circumstances. A substance abuse assessment may be a requirement for a DWI (driving while impaired), DUI (driving under the influence), an underage drinking violation, or court cases. Some substance abuse assessments are made as a suggestion by the court, your attorney, or by a concerned family member. Regardless of the reason, an individual can benefit from the referral and resources provided after completing their substance abuse assessment.

What is a Substance Abuse Assessment?

A substance abuse assessment is an interviewing tool that helps professionals find the right treatment to fit the individual. Some assessments are like a questionnaire while some are done orally, either way, the information provided guides the professional to the specific form of treatment necessary. On a positive note, you can neither pass nor fail this test, so no worries there is not a grade given. For many, this type of interview can seem intimidating because in depth questions are going to be asked about personal details of your life. The drug and alcohol assessment questions are not used to judge the individual themselves but to give a clearer view of the right form of treatment appropriate to fit the type of person. Additionally, no one will be pointing a finger of judgment or rejection at you for the personal information you disclose. At the Behavioral Health Intervention Center (BHIC), you will meet with a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor to complete your 5 step assessment.

Step 1: Registration

In the beginning of the assessment, you will be asked to provide your demographic and contact information. In this packet of forms, the counselor will go over your confidentiality and HIPAA rights which include protection of your personal information, information gathered during the assessment, and future exchanges and treatment progress. You are the only one allowed to provide permission to release your information.

Step 2: Screening

This part of the assessment includes tools that the counselor uses to determine appropriateness for a treatment level. At BHIC we use evidence-based SAMHSA screening tools including the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI), the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST), and the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST). These three tools use self-reported information to determine possible substance dependency. In addition, chemical screening through urine and breathe are conducted to identify recent drug and/or alcohol use.

Step 3: Clinical Interview

After the registration and screening parts of the drug and alcohol evaluation, the counselor then completes an oral clinical interview. Questions asked in the substance abuse assessment will relate to medical and mental health history, social relationships, family influences, educational and employment history, criminal background, and substance use history.

Step 4: Diagnosis

This part of the drug and alcohol assessment is when the counselor determines the appropriate diagnosis for the current drug and alcohol use. Common diagnosis include Alcohol Use Disorder, mild and moderate, Cannabis Use Disorder, mild and moderate, Stimulant Use Disorder, mild, and Opioid Use Disorder, mild. The mild, moderate, and severe designations acknowledge the intensity of the drugs affects on the individual’s lifestyle. Most patients we see are below the severe mark and can benefit from the services we provide.

Step 5: Recommendation

Based on all the information gathered from the registration, screening, and clinical interview, the counselor will utilize the substance use diagnosis to create a recommendation for treatment. Recommendations include short term and long term outpatient treatment, detox, and/or rehabilitation. The recommendations are then used to refer you to services appropriate for your level of need. Additionally, the assessment allows the substance abuse counselor to provide additional resources for the individual that may present through the session.

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