In order to begin your recovery, you must admit that you have a problem and need professional help in order to overcome it. You might not be a trained professional, and therefore aren’t positive that what you are experiencing is actually substance abuse, and we don’t expect you to know how to treat it on your own. If your substance use is beginning to impact your life, relationships, and future, you might want to seek help as soon as possible. 

Despite your thoughts, you will most likely undergo a substance abuse evaluation, a tool that health providers use to understand your needs and issues with substances better. 

When you undergo the evaluation, your provider is also able to draft up a treatment plan that will best suit you. During this evaluation, it might be that your provider notices other issues you have that are co-occurring with your substance use disorder. The ability to make a dual diagnosis then helps to treat your conditions more accurately. 

What To Expect From a Substance Abuse Evaluation

Undergoing a substance abuse evaluation will:

  • Determine the magnitude of the substance abuse, based on how much it impacts everyday life
  • Gather basic information about a person’s past and present situation
  • Find any co-occurring issues that impact the substance abuse
  • Develop treatment plan options

Most substance abuse evaluations occur in two parts: initial screening and a personal assessment. The initial screening gives you an answer of “yes” or “no” to the question: Are signs of substance abuse prevalent? The assessment portion of the evaluation then helps to determine a diagnosis and create a plan for treatment.

Most entry-level medical professionals can administer you screenings. Still, the assessment portion is usually done by a therapist, social worker, nurse, or doctor, to get more in-depth questions and responses. 

During the assessment porton you might be asked more specific and targeted questions. This is so the person interviewing you can get as much information about your specific needs to create a treatment plan that will actually benefit you. You might be asked about your family’s history with drugs and alcohol, your own personal history, if you have ever undergone treatment, if you’ve ever received therapy for something other than substance abuse, etc.—the list goes on and on!  

Court Ordered Evaluations

Sometimes when a legal case involves a substance, it might be ordered that there is a substance abuse evaluation completed. 

This could happen if you get a DUI (driving under the influence), DWI (driving while intoxicated), public intoxication, MIP (minor in possession), or even disorderly conduct. It might also be court-ordered in the case that there are children involved who could be put at risk.

While the point of these evaluations may seem scary, it’s best to be honest so that you can still receive the proper treatment and make sure that it never happens again. You might end up having to complete community service or undergo inpatient or outpatient services for your substance use as a result of the court’s decisions. 

Screening for Substance Use Disorders

The screening process is the first of two that you go through when determining whether or not you have a substance use disorder. This screening can help figure out what kind of treatment you might benefit from and help to start the conversation on your needs. 

While any entry-level medical professional can do the screening process with you, it’s also something that you can often find online to give yourself an idea if going through the process is worth it. (Hint: It probably is worth it!)

Screening tools that are often used are:

  • The CAGE Questionnaire: This is the most commonly used questionnaire for substance abuse screening, and it is based on four questions. You can answer these questions for yourself, and if they resonate with you, it might be time to reach out to a treatment center.
      • Have you ever felt that you need to cut down on your substance use?
      • Have you been Annoyed by others criticizing your usage?
      • Have you ever felt guilty about your substance use?
      • Have you felt that you need to use substances as soon as you wake up (Eye-opener)?
  • SASSI (Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory): This is an instrument that helps to distinguish what issues you might have with substance abuse and mental health disorders, as well as the level of willingness you have to seek out treatment.
    It is also easy to distinguish those unwilling to see how their substance abuse has impacted them, regardless of how they are trying to paint their issues. The SASSI is an instrument you can purchase online, and it even has versions focused on adolescents and Spanish speakers.

Assessments for Substance Use Disorders

Once you have undergone the initial screening assessment, you might then be pointed to a trained professional who will administer a set of questions and discussion topics. 

This will allow the administrator to get a deeper sense of your history and behaviors with substances. You want to be as open and honest with the administrator as possible because this will help you get the proper care. 

The administrator wants to get a clearer picture of what exactly goes on in your mind regarding substances. But at the same time, they also want to get a better idea of you in general—your mental health, your physical health, your family history, and so on. The easiest way for someone to do this is to have a semi-structured interview with you to ask very personal and specific questions.

The Semi-Structured Interview

The administrator of a semi-structured interview typically has a set of questions that they want to ask that will help clarify the issues of the patient. 

Along with these questions, the administrator may ask other questions based on their professional knowledge that will help give a better assessment of these issues. With a semi-structured interview, you end up getting a more detailed idea of the patient’s use of substances. 

One of the most efficient ways to perform a semi-structured interview is the Addiction Severity Index (ASI). This set of questions focus on seven key concerns:

  • Drug Use
  • Alcohol Use
  • Psychiatric Status
  • Family Status
  • Employment Status
  • Medical Status
  • Legal Status

It’s important, to be honest during these interviews and assessments because it will determine how you are treated. You want to receive the most accurate care you can get, so being truthful and expressing your needs will only help you!

Creating a Treatment Plan

Once you’ve gone through the screening and assessment for substance abuse, the administrator can better understand your personal needs. They might not be the ones to develop an in-depth treatment plan for you, but that’s because they will work with other trained professionals to put you on the right path. 

Once you’ve received your diagnosis, you can finally move on towards recovery. It really does take the act of acknowledging your problems to find the solution. 

Your treatment plan should focus on all of the things you need healing from, so expressing your needs to the interview administrator is so important! You will be placed into group therapy and individual therapy and find out if an inpatient program would be more beneficial or if outpatient services will serve you just fine. 

Most inpatient and outpatient programs will offer individualized treatment plans, so your needs will be put first no matter where you are.  

Finding Help At Soba Recovery Centers

At Soba Recovery Centers, our first step is to provide you with a substance abuse evaluation. If you are on the fence, wondering whether or not you have problems with substance use, we can help you through the process of diagnosing it, creating a treatment plan, and providing support and assistance throughout your journey. 

We offer both outpatient and inpatient treatment options so that you can find a schedule and intensity that works best for you

You know yourself best. You know what you can handle and what you’ve been through. You’ve experienced more than many people can say they have in their lifetime, but we can help you figure out what’s best for your health so that you can live happy and healthy moving forward. 

If you think you could benefit from substance use assistance, contact us here at Soba Recovery Centers to schedule you for an evaluation. Your path to a better future starts today!



4 Screening and Assessment – Substance Abuse Treatment: Addressing the Specific Needs of Women | NCBI Bookshelf 

Appendix D: Examples of Screening and Assessment Tools for Substance Use Disorders | SAMHSA

Assessing Addiction: Concepts and Instruments | NCBI

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