What is a Substance Abuse Evaluation?
A substance abuse evaluation typically comprises of a clinical interview, completion of written assessments or screening tools and a urine drug screen that culminates in a written letter describing the results of the evaluation including any diagnoses or recommendations for substance abuse treatment. People are often referred for a substance abuse evaluation due to court proceedings, recent arrests and/or return-to-work or fitness for duty concerns.
These are examples of circumstances or convictions where a judge might require an evaluation:
- Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID)
- Minor in possession (MIP)
- Arrest for drug or alcohol possession
- Disorderly conduct
- Public intoxication
- Using a false ID
- Custody of minor children concerns (abuse, neglect allegations)
There are certain documents that you will need to bring, which may be furnished by yourself or your attorney should you have one. These may include, as applicable: a copy of the results of your NEEDS Assessment if you went to a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (RRP), a report from the Department of Driver Services or Department of Motor Vehicles detailing your driving history (generally going back 7 years), a copy of any criminal history or arrests, and a copy of the arrest report.
During the course of the evaluation, which typically takes between 60-90 minutes, you will have an interview with a person who is trained in substance abuse treatment that is licensed as an addiction counselor and professional counselor in Lousiana. They will do an in-depth review of your substance abuse history and look over the documents you provided.
This evaluation is relevant because it determines if an ongoing condition is present such as a substance use disorder or addiction, or if there may not be enough evidence to support that you struggle with either, such as if the circumstances that resulted in the arrest were a one-time event of substance misuse. Even in the latter circumstance, in many states a person may still have to undergo various programs or treatment obligations as deemed acceptable by the court.
Depending on the state, the incident/sentencing, and the recommendations of the professional evaluating you, you may be required to go to one or more of the following. Keep in mind, the courts may determine that you require some of these prior to even having the evaluation:
- DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (RRP)
- Random drug and/or alcohol urinalysis
- AA or NA meetings
- Substance abuse education class(es)
- Substance abuse counseling sessions
- Treatment program; either individualized or group and either inpatient or outpatient
It is important to remember that even though you did not choose these circumstances, it is most advantageous for you to begin this process immediately. Not only does this exhibit to the judge and prosecution that you are taking your responsibilities seriously, but it allows you an opportunity to receive help that you may very well need.
A Substance Abuse Evaluation Is A Tool To Help You Succeed
Though you might feel embarrassed or ashamed, or inclined to not be entirely forthcoming about your substance use behaviors, you must remember that ultimately this evaluation is for your own benefit. The substance abuse professional(s) cannot fully develop a plan or program without knowing exactly where you stand within your substance abuse or addiction.
In addition to your substance abuse, this is a time for you to be honest about any other factors that may influence your substance abuse or recovery options. The more honest you are, the greater the benefits you will reap. If you hide any habits or information, you are only harming yourself and hindering your chances for a healthier life and a full recovery. At any point within your recovery or treatment your success depends on your ability to be honest with both yourself and those who are striving to help you.