Substance Abuse Assessments – What To Expect


A substance abuse assessment may sound intimidating, but it’s actually quite similar to a test you’d take in high school… only you know all the answers. Some tests may include essay or multiple-choice questions, while others take the form of an oral exam between patient and counselor. Put simply, a substance abuse assessment serves only as a tool to help professionals assess and address the specific needs of their patients.

Intimidation Factor

It’s not uncommon for assessments to evoke insecurity or anxiety. It’s not easy to let a new person in on the details of your personal life! However, the very same aspect that makes this experience scary can also prove a comfort source. This is not - a college final where your answers will be judged or combed over - a job interview where you are compared to alternate applicants; there is no wrong answer! The more forthcoming you are during the assessment, the better equipped your counselor will be to address your needs and goals.


What’s Involved?

Assessments generally begin with a short questionnaire or list of questions posed by someone in a direct manner. Some facilities base their assessment solely on the answers provided. Others will pass the information along to a substance abuse specialist, who can expand on topics and ideas to ensure a more customized treatment plan.

What’s The Point?

Addiction diagnosis is but one of many goals of substance abuse assessments. Substance abuse or mental health counselors must also determine whether the patient would benefit from a medical detox program. Some may use information pertaining to past mental illness or traumas to better address the situation at hand. When a patient suffers from a condition like bi-polar disorder, for example, the specialist may recommend dual-diagnosis treatment instead of the traditional 12-step treatment option.


Detox is defined by the process of eliminating toxins left behind by chronic alcohol or drug abuse. The process typically lasts a week or less, and employs medical monitoring and medication to help ensure a healthy and comfortable transition into sobriety.

Dual Diagnosis

Dual-diagnosis works to address body and mind in patients struggling with both addiction and mental illness. The treatment utilizes analysis and/or counseling in conjunction with traditional substance abuse therapy.

Where Is The Assessment Performed?

Assessments may be performed at the treatment center, or via phone in some cases. Patients should be prepared to answer the same question on multiple occasions – via phone, at the facility and during enrollment. The process can at times be tedious, but is well worth the minor hassle when considering the benefits of a healthy, sober lifestyle.

Get started on your recovery today with a call to Decision Point Center!