What To Expect At A Substance Abuse Assessment And Evaluation - Addiction Resource (2023)

Substance abuse assessments and evaluations are used to help the individual being assessed find the right type of addiction treatment program. Sharing accurate, truthful personal information is important in order to provide well-rounded appropriate treatment

What To Expect At A Substance Abuse Assessment And Evaluation - Addiction Resource (1)

What Is A Substance Abuse Assessment Or Evaluation?

Treatment is available for anyone who is struggling with substance abuse or addiction. Many of these services are designed to be tailored to individual needs. Providers need to have an evaluative process that can be used to create individualized, evidence based treatment, and that process includes a substance abuse assessment.

There are many feelings a person experiences when standing face to face with their own substance misuse, abuse or addiction. All too often, shame and embarrassment keep a person from reaching out for treatment. Sometimes, nervousness and fear over not knowing what to expect can make reaching out for treatment seem even more impossible. Knowing how the process starts and what to expect early on can help a person finally accept the help they need.

When exploring treatment options for substance abuse and addiction, obtaining a substance abuse evaluation is typically how that journey begins. Substance abuse assessments and evaluations are used to explore addiction, degree of addiction, and additional potential diagnosis (co-occurring disorders or conditions). Using the results of the assessment can help form the foundation for an individual’s substance abuse treatment.

The Motivation Behind A Substance Abuse Evaluation

The purpose of a substance abuse evaluation is to explore the following:

  • establish if the person meets criteria for a substance misuse disorder (drug or alcohol abuse or addiction)
  • find out the degree or severity of the substance misuse disorder
  • explore the possibility of a co-occurring disorder or poly-drug use
  • discover how much substance use is affecting the life of the individual

All of the information obtained during the substance abuse evaluation is used to gain understanding and insight into the individual being assessed. Being able to see the circumstances connecting substance abuse and the person can help providers develop individualized treatment plan options with a solid baseline and focus on recovery.

(Video) Substance Use and Alcohol Use Assessment

Substance Abuse Evaluation Expectations

Substance abuse evaluations are divided into two seperate sections. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) , the sections of a substance abuse evaluation are screening and assessment.

Substance Abuse Screening

Substance abuse screening evaluates if a persons substance use may need further exploration for potential of an abuse disorder. There are different types of screening and the result of a screening is usually yes (positive) or no (negative). If the answer is yes (positive), it is used to indicate that a closer look is needed to determine if the substance use may warrant treatment. Different types of screenings for substance abuse include:

  • Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI) – a self-report that is easy to take, administer, and score. This screening tool has scientific evidence that supports that it has 93 percent accuracy when diagnosing substance dependence.
  • CAGE questionnaire – This screening tool assesses alcohol misuse in four simple questions. Because it is brief and non-invasive, it is important that the person answering the questions be honest, and not make attempts to cover their use.
  • BSTAD (Brief Screener for Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drugs) – For use in teens and adolescents, this self assessment can be taken online with or without a clinician present. Results should only be interpreted by a professional.
  • TAPS (Tobacco, Alcohol, and other Drugs – a versatile screening tool that offers a more indepth screen, online or face to face administration, explores recent and past substance use habits. Results still need to be reviewed with a professional.

Screenings are also available for specific substance use, including alcohol, opioids, as well as specific demographics, teens, adults, pain management patients. Some states have specific screenings that the prefer to be used when conducting a screening for substance abuse and addiction.

It is important to understand that a screening tool is not an assessment. A screening for substance use is one of many tools that is used to determine if further assessment is needed. The results of all screenings and assessments should always be analyzed by a qualified individual.

Substance Abuse Assessment

The assessment process is more in-depth. This is a way to further define and explore the results of the screening. These results can be used to diagnose and create recommendations for treatment services.

(Video) Ask the Expert: What is a drug or alcohol abuse assessment?

Assessments involve obtaining a thorough history of the patient. They explore previous substance use, mental health, physical health, medical history, family history, and personal history. The interview process is conducted either by a structured interview or a semi-structured interview, and most professionals in the field use the following resources when conducting an assessment

Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-5) uses structured questions to explore the potential diagnoses that are within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). The DSM-IV was updated in 2013, and contains all mental health diagnoses, including substance use disorders. This manual also provides questions to provide a range (mild, moderate, severe) of substance misuse. The diagnostic criteria from this manual is accepted by medical and substance abuse facilities. This method is very structured and it is not recommended that the person interviewing deviate very far from the questions as they are written.

Addiction Severity Index (ASI) uses a semi-structured interview process. Because the person being assessed is asked questions about both recent and past substance use, a pattern of abuse can be documented. This index also provides a thorough assessment of seven areas that tend to be affected by substance abuse and addiction. Individuals using this index tend to use their expertise in the field to further understand the depth of the clients addiction.The results of this assessment can be used to focus treatment goals and build a plan or service for the patient.

It is common for more than one person to assess a person during this assessment process. This is to make sure that the facility gathers as much information as possible. Additionally, a provider may ask to speak with friends or family members to better understand how substance abuse is affecting the life of the person being assessed.

Co-Occurring Diagnoses And Evaluation Results

It is not uncommon for a person who is struggling with substance abuse to also be struggling with a mental health issue as well. Depression, anxiety, and even mood disorders can sometimes happen at the same time as a substance abuse disorder, called co-occurring disorders. While it isn’t always clear if the mental health issue is a result of the substance abuse, or if the substance abuse is an attempt to self-medicate the mental health issue, it is important to treat both conditions at the same time to help increase the likelihood of long-term sobriety.

(Video) Do You Get Drug Tested At A Substance Abuse Evaluation?

Co-Occurring diagnoses are not limited to mental health issues. There are physical conditions that can occur alongside substance use disorders. Liver disease, infections, STDs, diseases associated with intravenous drug use, are among a few co-occurring physical issues associated with substance abuse

Who Conducts A Substance Abuse Evaluation

The people conducting these evaluations are professionals who have been educated in the substance abuse or mental health fields and are trained to administer these assessments. Substance abuse counselors, mental health counselors, therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, medical professionals, and psychometrists are just a few of the professionals who are qualified to give these types of assessments.

The results of a substance abuse evaluation and assessment are confidential. The results should only be used to help evaluate addiction and explore treatment options that meet the needs of the person being assessed. There are some circumstances when results may be requested by the court or legal system, but only the relevant documentation is provided. If there is any question about information that may be disclosed, the person giving the assessment should be able to answer those questions or find the answers.

How A Substance Abuse Evaluation Helps In Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance abuse evaluations determine how substance abuse is affecting the life of the person struggling with substance abuse. The assessment will gather enough information to provide a thorough history, which shows patterns of abuse, triggers, substances that are being abused, substances that have been used previously, and problems that have occurred as a result of substance abuse.

These evaluations also allow the the treatment facility to explore what is important to the person seeking treatment and discover what the person wants to see as a result of treatment. In this way, the rehab center determine if they can meet the needs of the patient and, if so, then develop a treatment program that is uniquely designed with the patient in mind.

(Video) How to Conduct Quality Substance Abuse Evaluations

To being the journey to sobriety, contact us today.

Written by the Addiction Resource Editorial Staff

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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(Video) Substance Use Disorder Screening and Assessment 1/18/2022

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Home > What To Expect At A Substance Abuse Assessment & Evaluation


What questions do they ask in a substance abuse evaluation? ›

Phrasing Questions About Alcohol and Drug Use
  • What was going on in your life when you started using/drinking?
  • When you use (or drink), how do you feel?
  • When you use, how does it affect your (mental illness symptoms)? ...
  • Have you ever stopped or tried to limit your use?

What does a substance abuse assessment consist of? ›

Assessment comprises a medical and psychological history along with family, social, sexual, and drug use histories and a physical examination.

What are the top 3 priority assessment findings that support addiction? ›

What are the top 3 priority assessment findings that support addiction? Based on the assessment findings, it is clear that substance abuse is an issue, and the top three priority assessments are impaired social functioning, the risk for self-harm, and alteration in thought processes.

What is the difference between screening and assessment for substance abuse? ›

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.

What are the 5 W's for substance abuse? ›

Who, what, where, when, why- there are questions to ask after a relapse. If you or a loved one have recently relapsed, investigating the 5 W's isn't an inquisition, but a search for knowledge to prevent relapse in the future.

What is the 4 P's substance abuse screening tool? ›

The 4P's substance abuse screening tool

Parents – Have your parents had any past or present alcohol or drug issues? Partner – Has your partner had a past or present problem with alcohol or drugs? Past – Have you ever had a problem with alcohol or drugs? Pregnancy – Have you used alcohol or drugs during pregnancy?

How many questions are on the abuse assessment screen? ›

Describes the administration, alternate forms, and evidence base of a 160-item questionnaire designed to assess the likelihood of an individual physically abusing a child.

What is the first step in the addiction assessment process? ›

Addiction assessment process

During the initial stage of an addiction assessment, you will be asked if you are currently under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. You will be asked what substances you have taken recently and in the past.

What is the most popular substance abuse assessment? ›

The CAGE, a very brief screen, is probably the most widely used and promoted for the detection of alcohol problems in the United States. It is one of the screens most consistently promoted for use among medical professionals to identify individuals likely to have substance use disorders.

What are the 4 C's of addiction? ›

These four factors, compulsion, craving, consequences and control, are unique to addiction alone and are classified as the 4 C's. The behaviors of most addicts are very similar.

What are the three P's of addiction? ›

3 “P's” for Recovery: Passion, Power and Purpose.

What are the three C's of addiction craving? ›

The table lists three components of addiction: loss of control, craving and preoccupation with use, and use despite negative consequences (the three “C's”) and possible signs or symptoms of each of these components that may indicate an opioid abuse problem.

What is the difference between assessment and evaluation? ›

Assessment is feedback from the student to the instructor about the student's learning. Evaluation uses methods and measures to judge student learning and understanding of the material for purposes of grading and reporting.

What is the difference between a screen and an assessment? ›

Assessment is a process of collecting information. Screening is an assessment process that helps teachers identify students who are at risk for not meeting grade-level learning goals.

What is the difference between assessment and screening evaluation? ›

They provide information about each child's interests, strengths, and needs. Screening gives a picture of whether the child's development is on track. Assessment is an ongoing process which provides information about development over time.

What are 4 examples of a person with a substance abuse issue? ›

Substances frequently include:
  • Alcohol.
  • Marijuana.
  • Prescription medicines, such as pain pills, stimulants, or anxiety pills.
  • Methamphetamine.
  • Cocaine.
  • Opiates.
  • Hallucinogens.
  • Inhalants.

What are 6 examples of substance abuse? ›

What Is Substance Abuse?
  • Commonly Abused Drugs.
  • Alcohol.
  • Prescription and Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicine.
  • Heroin.
  • Cocaine.
  • Marijuana.
  • Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products.
  • Signs of a Substance Use Problem.
Nov 28, 2022

What are the 6 components of addiction? ›

Griffiths (2005) has operationally defined addictive behavior as any behavior that features what he believes are the six core components of addiction (i.e., salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict, and relapse).

What is the primary purpose of substance abuse assessment? ›

A substance abuse assessment is a more in-depth evaluation of a person's relationship with drug or alcohol addiction. An assessment identifies patterns around someone's substance-related behavior to find specific evidence of potential addiction and to make a proper diagnosis.

What is a substance assessment? ›

What is a Substance Use Evaluation? A Substance Use Evaluation, also known as a drug and alcohol evaluation, is a process that takes place between an individual and an addictions counselor. The goal of the process is to assess whether or not an individual's alcohol and/or drug use is a problem.

How do you assess a patient for abuse? ›

Ask about bruises and document explanations. If there is bruising or other visible evidence of abuse, take photographs (after written consent), including one with the patient's face, label them, and place in the medical record. Documenting procedures are described in some depth in the National Consensus Guidelines.

What is the escape instrument? ›

'Escape instrument': the screening instrument for child abuse used at the emergency departments. One (or more) ticked answers in the dark boxes indicate the possibility of an increased risk of child abuse and further action is recommended. Source publication.

How many indicators of abuse are there? ›

Domestic violence or abuse can be characterised by any of the indicators of abuse outlined in this briefing relating to: • psychological • physical • sexual • financial • emotional.

What is the first rule of addiction? ›

Rule 1: Change Your Life

Recovery involves creating a new life in which it is easier to not use. When individuals do not change their lives, then all the factors that contributed to their addiction will eventually catch up with them.

What are the two most widely used screening tests for drugs? ›

The most commonly used drug abuse screening tests are:
  • Drug Abuse Screen Test (DAST, also known as DAST-10). ...
  • NIDA Drug Use Screening Tool, also known as the NIDA Quick Screen. ...
  • NIDA Modified Alcohol, Smoking, and Substance Involvement Screening (NM ASSIST). ...
  • Cut-down Annoyed, Guilty, Eye-opener (CAGE).
Jul 27, 2021

What is typically the first step in the substance abuse treatment process? ›

Detoxification is normally the first step in treatment. This involves clearing a substance from the body and limiting withdrawal reactions. In 80 percent of cases, a treatment clinic will use medications to reduce withdrawal symptoms, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

What is the most important factor in substance abuse? ›

Peer pressure is a strong factor in starting to use and misuse drugs, particularly for young people. Lack of family involvement. Difficult family situations or lack of a bond with your parents or siblings may increase the risk of addiction, as can a lack of parental supervision. Early use.

What is the best assessment for alcohol use disorder? ›

The most commonly used alcohol screening tests are: Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). This test contains 10 multiple choice questions about how much and how often you drink alcohol and if you have any alcohol-related problems or reactions.

What does the most common substance abuse disorder involve? ›

Worldwide and in the United States, tobacco use disorder is the most prevalent addiction. Most commonly, nicotine is absorbed through the lungs when individuals burn and inhale tobacco products.

What is the triangle of addiction? ›

The triangle describes the roles individuals play in conflict, but in a family touched by addiction, it's common to see these roles play out in daily life. The three roles are the Persecutor, the Rescuer, and the Victim.

What is the key indicator of addiction? ›

Some of the more common signs of addiction, physical and mental, include: Increased, hyperactivity or decreased, lack of energy (depending on substance type) Excessive sniffly or running nose. Dilated or red eyes.

What are the three most harmful addictions? ›

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has a famous phrase that goes as such: The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.

What are 3 characteristics of addictive behavior? ›

Some signs of addiction are:
  • Always wanting more.
  • Constantly needing more.
  • Continuing despite negative outcomes.
  • Inability to follow rules you have set.
  • Not being able to stop.
  • Obsessing.
  • Replacing relationships.
  • Secrecy.
Mar 10, 2019

What is assessment and evaluation with example? ›

What is an assessment? Assessment is the systematic process of documenting and using empirical data to measure knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs. What is evaluation? Evaluation focuses on grades and might reflect classroom components other than course content and mastery level.

What is the main purpose of assessment and evaluation? ›

The most important purpose of assessment and evaluation is to improve student learning. Assessment and evaluations are important tools for designing curriculum and instructional approaches as per need of students.

What comes first between assessment and evaluation? ›

Assessment is made to identify the level of performance of an individual, whereas evaluation is performed to determine the degree to which goals are attained. The basic difference between assessment and evaluation lies in the orientation, i.e. while the assessment is process oriented, evaluation is product oriented.

What happens in a screen test? ›

A screen test is an audition for a movie or series where the actor is given a more challenging piece of the script to prepare and then filmed to be shown to the production or director.

What is appropriate assessment screening? ›

Screening for appropriate assessment is intended to be an initial examination which must be carried out by the planning authority or An Bord Pleanála as the competent authority.

What are the steps of the assessment cycle? ›

The Cycle of Assessment. Good assessment follows an intentional and reflective process of design, implementation, evaluation, and revision. The Cycle of Assessment relies on four simple but dynamic words to represent this process: Teach, Measure, Reflect, and Plan & Improve.

What are the 3 kinds of assessment and evaluation? ›

There are three types of assessment: diagnostic, formative, and summative. Although are three are generally referred to simply as assessment, there are distinct differences between the three.

What is the scale for substance abuse? ›

SAS is a novel, brief self-report scale that assesses addiction awareness in substance use disorder. SAS demonstrated good convergent and discriminant validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability.

What is the functional assessment of mental health and addiction? ›

The Functional Assessment of Mental Health and Addiction scale (FAMHA) was specifically designed to meet criteria for both mental health issues and addictions. Dual diagnosed clients have multiple service needs in mental health, addiction treatment, and medical interventions.

What are the diagnostic criteria for a patient with substance abuse? ›

Consuming the substance in larger amounts and for a longer amount of time than intended. Persistent desire to cut down or regulate use. The individual may have unsuccessfully attempted to stop in the past. Spending a great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of substance use.

What is a clinical assessment for substance use? ›

A thorough substance use assessment includes a detailed inventory of the type, amount, frequency, and consequences of the patient's substance use, their perception of their use, and readiness to change. Additionally, we review past medical and psychiatric history and assess for co-occurring psychiatric disorders.

What are the four main characteristics present in most substance use disorders? ›

The symptoms associated with a substance use disorder fall into four major groupings: impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria (i.e., tolerance and withdrawal).

What is the most common type of substance use disorder? ›

Alcohol use disorder is still the most common form of substance use disorder in America, fueled by widespread legal access and social approval of moderate drinking. Many Americans begin drinking at an early age.

What are three specific substance use disorders? ›

Types of Substance Use Disorders
  • Alcohol use disorder.
  • Cannabis use disorder, also known as marijuana use disorder.
  • Phencyclidine use disorder, a type of hallucinogen.
  • Other hallucinogen-use disorder, which includes hallucinogens other than phencyclidine.
  • Inhalant use disorder.
  • Opioid use disorder.

How do I prepare for a clinical assessment? ›

Preparing for the initial clinical assessment
  1. Consider whether any additional information is required.
  2. Understand the needs of the client.
  3. Anticipate the questions that the client may ask, and.
  4. Determine questions to ask the client to assist in developing the client profile (this Module will cover some of these questions).

What are the 3 main methods used in clinical assessment? ›

Let's look closer at three common types of clinical assessments: clinical interviews, neurological and biological testing and intelligence testing.

What two 2 questions would be asked to identify maternal drug abstinence? ›

A doctor will ask questions about the mother's drug use, such as what drugs she took during pregnancy, and when she last took them. Tests may be done to diagnose withdrawal in a newborn, including uising a standard scoring system to assess for NAS symptoms and test to detect drugs in the baby's system.

What does screening for substance abuse mean? ›

The goal of substance abuse screening is to identify individuals who have or are at risk for developing alcohol- or drug-related problems, and within that group, identify patients who need further assessment to diagnose their substance use disorders and develop plans to treat them (see Chapter 4).

What are the 4 C's of the addiction cycle? ›

These four factors, compulsion, craving, consequences and control, are unique to addiction alone and are classified as the 4 C's.

How do you assess and diagnose drug abuse? ›

Diagnosing drug addiction (substance use disorder) requires a thorough evaluation and often includes an assessment by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. Blood, urine or other lab tests are used to assess drug use, but they're not a diagnostic test for addiction.


1. Intake and Assessment Role-Play - Substance Use Appraisal
(Dr. Todd Grande)
2. Alcohol Abuse Assessment: Learn it Fast Remember it Forever!(Step 1, COMLEX, NCLEX®, PANCE, AANP)
3. Alcohol CAGE Questionnaire
(Doctor O'Donovan)
4. Models of Treatment for Addiction | Addiction Counselor Training Series
(Doc Snipes)
5. Teen Substance Use & Abuse (Alcohol, Tobacco, Vaping, Marijuana, and More)
(Oasis Mental Health Applications)
6. Assessment Review for the Addiction Counselor Exam
(Doc Snipes)


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