What Does Substance Abuse Evaluation Consist Of?

What Does Substance Abuse Evaluation Consist Of
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If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse disorder, you may need to undergo a substance abuse evaluation. Also called drug abuse evaluations, substance abuse evaluations are critical screening processes that help medical professionals learn what a person is experiencing, what they’re addicted to and suffering from, and much more.

This article will explore what a substance abuse evaluation consists of and what to expect if you are ordered to submit one.

What’s Involved in a Substance Abuse Evaluation?

The majority of substance abuse evaluations have two distinct processes. The screening process evaluates the presence of a specific problem, like addiction to a particular drug or substance. The assessment process defines the nature of issues detected. It’s also helpful for determining the proper diagnosis for a patient – such as someone entering rehab – to maximize wellness results.

Both screening and assessment may be performed by primary healthcare providers, social workers, or substance abuse counselors. Let’s take a closer look at both of these sections separately.

The Screening Process

In the screening part of a substance abuse evaluation, staff members determine whether a given situation needs preventive or medical care and further assistance. The screening process might include the use of various tools, such as:

  • Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI).1 This is a crucial tool that helps social workers and other interviewers identify those who have higher chances of being diagnosed with substance use disorders
  • CAGE Questionnaire.2 This is the most commonly used method for drug screening. It asks four questions related to an individual’s alcohol consumption habits.
  • State-specific screening. Depending on your state of residence, your state might have a legally required screening tool to be used instead of the above two tools.

In any case, the screening section of a substance abuse evaluation is almost always performed by a professional who is trained and knowledgeable enough to review and assess the results quickly.

If you have to submit to a court-ordered substance abuse evaluation, you may be required to provide a biological sample. This can include spit or urine, and it’s used to determine whether any illegal or dangerous drugs are currently in your system.

The Substance Abuse Assessment

The substance abuse assessment part of the process is more in-depth. It comprehensively analyzes an individual’s relationship with drug or alcohol addiction. It can also identify patterns related to substance abuse, enabling professionals to make good diagnoses and provide actionable advice for addicted individuals.

In a substance abuse assessment, you’ll sit for a diagnostic interview. Your interviewer will ask you various questions related to your screening to better understand your substance use patterns. Depending on the rules of your assessment, you might see two tools used, which are:

  • Diagnostic Interview Schedule-IV (DIS-IV). 3 This screening tool is used by nonclinical interviewers, like social workers, to determine whether there is an active diagnosis of a drug or substance addiction.
  • Addiction Severity Index (ASI). The ASI is a semi structured exam interview that examines factors like alcohol use, medical status, and family or social status. It addresses the use of drugs or alcohol for an individual within the last 30 days and examines your lifetime substance use patterns

One or both tools may be used to determine the following:

  • The nature of a substance abuse disorder, if present
  • The best treatment plan (e.g., inpatient therapy, outpatient therapy, etc.)
  • Whether there is any immediate danger to the subject or others

When Might You Need to Submit to a Substance Abuse Evaluation?

A substance abuse evaluation might be a good idea in various circumstances. Furthermore, you may be legally required to submit to a substance abuse evaluation if a court of law orders you to do so.

Aside from this case, your friends or family members may suggest a substance abuse evaluation:

  • If they believe your substance use is causing severe issues in your everyday life 
  • An adult child believes that a parent or loved one is abusing various substances
  • An addicted individual isn’t willing to voluntarily seek out treatment on their own

Furthermore, your employer may require you to submit a substance abuse evaluation if they believe substance use has interfered with your work duties and performance. Substance abuse evaluations are not scary – they’re essential steps on the path to long-term wellness.

Get Help for Substance Use Disorders with Clear Life Recovery

A substance abuse evaluation is necessary to ensure you get the best medical and rehab care possible. At Clear Life Recovery, our specialists will guide you through the process and ensure you understand each step. We’ll use the information from a substance abuse evaluation to determine the best treatment plan for your needs. Contact us today to learn more.



[1] https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/assessingalcohol/instrumentpdfs/66_sassi.pdf

[2] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/johns_hopkins_healthcare/downloads/all_plans/CAGE%20Substance%20Screening%20Tool.pdf

[3] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314045225_Diagnostic_Interview_Schedule_for_DSM-IV_DIS-IV