What to Expect During Evaluation for Substance Abuse

What to Expect During Evaluation for Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a difficult thing for any family to deal with, especially if they have been in denial and not willing to seek help. There are generally four goals that need to take place before a person can be evaluated for fitness in rehab for addiction. Once the team at the rehab center determines what the person used, the severity of abuse, and any mental health conditions, they can make treatment recommendations and help get the ball rolling for them. This evaluation forms the basis of their program, which is informed by whatever changes occur during that time and helps them better treat the individual.


A hallmark feature of substance abuse evaluation are the questionnaires. Clinicians ask questions to inventory the behaviors and attitudes, health, and past family history of drug use. Addiction and mental health experts use these tools for many reasons, but mostly to figure out where a person stands in this moment and how to best support their journey. These might include:

  • CAGE Questionnaire: a 4-question survey that assesses alcohol use. The content revolves around the ability to curb drinking behavior, guilt, and perception of alcohol use
  • Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT): used to determine how the person behaves around alcohol with self-report questions around frequency and quantity of use. Also includes questions of what interferes with normal activities like work, school, social, and family obligations
  • Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI): SASSI helps assess whether a person meets diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder and gauges readiness for change
  • Personal background: the individual is asked about past and present mental and physical health. Questions are similar to assessment sheets filled out prior to a doctor’s visit

Mental Health Evaluation

A key piece of getting an evaluation lies with the mental health questionnaire. Almost half of the people with addiction issues suffer from mental health disorders. Alcoholism is nearly four times more likely to have repercussions for a person’s mental health than people who do not abuse alcohol. Some common screening tools are used like the MMPI-II and others to determine how a person rates and where to place them so they have somewhere to start in rehab.

Other Evaluations

Throughout the start of the experience, there are many evaluations to cover. Physical exams are important because they give a broader picture of the person’s overall health, including weight, blood pressure, and more. Dental health is also checked, along with any ongoing infections from drug use. Self-harm screening is done, also, to evaluate the risk of self-harm. This provides a pathway to assist the person better if anything pops up on the assessment. A minimal risk may require a person to attend class on substance abuse while a high risk will mandate inpatient alcohol or drug rehab and a continuum of care program. 

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that providers for evaluation need to know the person’s overall picture to form their assessment and develop a plan. A tailored, individualized, plan is going to take a person further than missing a key piece of their personal journey and not being able to help them effectively. A good evaluation process is important in rehab to start the recovery journey right.

The Palmetto Center is based on a Therapeutic Community model. We do a thorough, personal, evaluation when you enter our doors. Our goal is to help you receive the best, most tailored, treatment available. Our program provides a special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.