When to Use a Substance Abuse Evaluation (with Template)

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) are treatable, chronic diseases characterized by a problematic pattern of use of a substance or substances leading to impairments in health, social function, and control over substance use. These clusters of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms are often noticed by individuals or their loved ones when they continue using a substance despite harmful consequences.

Substance use and abuse can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, sex, profession, or location. SUDs can develop gradually as an individual’s substance use increases in amount, frequency, duration, or impact on the individual’s personal and professional life. As a result, many people struggle to realize and admit they have a substance use disorder.

If you have or suspect you may have a substance use disorder, call the SAMHSA national helpline to speak to someone who can connect you with local support.

When to Use a Substance Abuse Evaluation (with Template)

What Are Substance Abuse Evaluations?

A substance abuse evaluation, also known as a drug or alcohol assessment, is a comprehensive assessment conducted by a qualified professional to determine an individual’s level of involvement with substances and their potential need for treatment or intervention. It is typically performed when there are concerns about a person’s substance use or if they have been involved in substance-related legal issues, such as DUI (driving under the influence) charges.

The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the severity of the substance abuse problem, identify any co-occurring mental health issues, and determine the appropriate level of care or treatment needed. The evaluator considers factors such as the individual’s motivation for change, the impact of substance use on their life, and any physical or psychological consequences of their substance use.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 46.3 million people aged 12 or older (or 16.5 percent of the population) met the applicable Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for having a substance use disorder in 2021.

Some of the most common substance use disorders in the United States are:
  • Alcohol Use Disorder
  • Tobacco Use Disorder
  • Opioid Use Disorder
  • Cannabis Use Disorder
  • Stimulant Use Disorder
  • Hallucinogen Use Disorder
  • Inhalant Use Disorder

It’s important to note that substance abuse evaluations and their results are confidential. These evaluations aren’t intended to be judgmental. Rather, they’re a helpful tool designed to help individuals understand their substance use patterns and make informed choices about their health and well-being.

Who Uses Substance Abuse Evaluations?

Substance abuse evaluations are often administered by trained professionals, including behavioral health professionals, addiction counselors, healthcare providers, social workers, and more. However, many individuals turn to anonymous substance abuse evaluation assessments online to determine whether or not they should seek help from a healthcare or mental health professional in managing their substance use.

Anyone worried about their own substance use, or the substance use of a loved one, can use a substance abuse evaluation to better understand their habits. However, only assessments administered by professionals are admissible in court proceedings or medical treatment plans.

What’s Covered in a Substance Abuse Evaluation?

Substance abuse evaluations gather information about the individual’s substance use history, including the types of substances used, frequency, and duration of use. They may also inquire about any previous attempts at treatment or recovery. These evaluations often include questionnaires, interviews, and discussions about substances’ impact on the individual’s personal, social, and professional functioning.

The contents of a substance abuse assessment are often dependent on the reason for the evaluation. Evaluations for treatment program intake, referrals to specialists, court-ordered evaluations, and psychiatric assessments can all focus on different aspects of substance use and addiction.

Because substance abuse disorders are frequently linked to other mental health issues, some questions on the evaluation may extend beyond the individual’s substance-related behaviors. Questions about the individual’s lifestyle, sources of stress, and past trauma can help professionals identify co-occurring disorders that may contribute to their substance use.

Some common information collected on substance abuse assessments include:

  • Demographic information
  • Contact information
  • Family history and background
  • Employment history
  • Legal issues and history
  • Health conditions and treatment history
  • Mental health diagnoses and symptoms
  • Substance use history
  • Substance use type and frequency
  • Average amount consumed per instance
  • Substance use’s impact on day-to-day life

If you are a professional working with individuals in need of addiction treatment, download our substance abuse evaluation template to use. If you are not a professional and think you or someone you know may be struggling with substance abuse, call the National Hotline.

Download our free substance abuse evaluation template.

Next Steps Following an Evaluation

Substance abuse evaluations are often the first step in a longer journey toward recovery. If an individual is using a self-assessment to determine whether or not they have a substance use disorder, they may take the evaluation results to an addiction counselor or healthcare provider to form a plan to improve or regulate their relationship with their substance[s] of choice.

If the substance abuse evaluation is administered by a professional — whether it’s an addiction specialist, behavioral health professional, or healthcare provider — the evaluator should provide safe and effective substance abuse treatment recommendations. These may include outpatient counseling, intensive outpatient programs, inpatient treatment centers (commonly referred to as rehab), and detoxification. Addiction to some substances comes with life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, so having appropriate professional and medical oversight throughout the detoxification process is critical.

If you are worried about your substance use, call the SAMHSA national helpline to learn more about how to safely get your substance use under control.

Following addiction treatment, the recipient may be referred to other service providers across a continuum of care. In many cases, a hands-on, multi-faceted approach may be beneficial to address underlying challenges that contribute to unhealthy substance use. If a client is facing housing instability, financial stress, mental health disorders, or other triggers, addressing those factors is crucial to decrease the likelihood of relapse.

When to Use a Substance Abuse Evaluation (with Template)

CaseWorthy’s Toolset Can Help Every Step of the Way

Treatment providers, addiction counselors, case managers, and social workers need to identify their clients’ unique challenges if they want to offer solutions and support. CaseWorthy’s customizable case management software was created by experienced human services professionals for people like you — people who want to serve their communities and improve lives.

CaseWorthy comes with several built-in assessment templates, or you can customize your own assessments to ensure you’re collecting the information your organization needs. These assessments can be completed in person or remotely, so you can serve clients anywhere. Assessment answers can be automatically entered into your secure, compliant database and processed through our powerful reporting interface, so your team can gather invaluable community insights in real time.

And often times, identifying a substance abuse disorder is only the first step. Our platform is built to help you with all aspects of case management, from initial intake to service delivery to impact reporting.

If you want to learn more about how CaseWorthy can help your organization gather, organize, and protect clients’ sensitive information, let us know. We would love to share what we’ve built.

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