A substance abuse disorder assessment is the first step in seeking treatment. You might feel nervous about it. You may think, “What will they ask? What will I say?” First of all, you are doing the best thing possible for yourself. You’re making a decision to have a better life. Therefore, knowing what to expect from a substance abuse disorder assessment is helpful.
Expectations for a Substance Abuse Disorder Assessment
The treatment center won’t judge you. Fear keeps a lot of people away from treatment programs. Know that the people who work there are there because they want to help people. They understand where you are and won’t judge you for what you’ve done in the past.
Think of the beginning of your treatment as a medical diagnosis. Addiction is a disease. You can recover from and manage your disease, but there isn’t really a ‘cure.’ Treatment programs know this and are there to help you find the best option for substance abuse recovery, whether for heroin or other opioid addictions, alcohol, or other drugs.
It’s helpful to call in advance. Call first and talk with the treatment center about their program. You’ll learn a lot about the process, and you’ll also find out if there are specific dates or times when they can do a substance abuse disorder assessment. You may also be able to make an appointment.
You will fill out paperwork. No one likes paperwork, but it’s a part of life when you are dealing with a medical situation. Don’t get frustrated. Just think of it as something you have to do to go to the next step. You may be able to fill out the paperwork in advance if the treatment center can email it to you. You’ll also need to have your driver’s license or photo ID and insurance information.
You may qualify for Medicaid. During the substance abuse disorder assessment, the counselor will ask about your medical insurance. Because substance abuse disorders or emotional disorders are protected as disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ACA), you may qualify for Medicaid. Coverage and eligibility varies from state to state.
You’ll learn about the differences between substance abuse and dependency. Abuse is using a drug to excess and needing more and more of it to satisfy cravings. Dependence is when your body has to have the drug or begin a process of withdrawal, which is a very difficult experience. Heroin and opioids have extreme withdrawal symptoms, but a methadone treatment program can ease the withdrawal to make it manageable.
After the assessment, you’ll make a decision. When you talk with the counselor and provide your information, you and the counselor will discuss treatment options. You’ll make a decision about going forward with treatment, or waiting. Regardless of your decision, you will know next steps for getting help.
Requirements of a Substance Abuse Disorder Assessment
The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) certifies programs that meet its guidelines. They have specific requirements for an appropriate substance abuse disorder assessment. According to CARF, ”Achieving accreditation requires a service provider to commit to quality improvement, focus on the unique needs of each person the provider serves, and monitor the results of services.” These qualifiers include, but aren’t limited to:
- The process of the assessment asks information from you, from your family and friends if you approve of their participation, from referral sources if you authorize communication with them, and with any external resources qualified to provide information.
- The purpose of the questions is to identify your goals and expectations of treatment.
- The assessment must consider your life status and other significant needs that you identify.
- To be complete, the counselor must be able to gather sufficient information about your mental health and stability, your preferences, your past treatment history, your family history, medication history, physical health status including past hospitalizations, social history, spiritual beliefs, employment and education history, and legal stressors.
- The assessment counselor will also ask you questions about trauma such as sexual assault, violence, neglect, or abuse. Questions should be included to determine if you have taken risks with your safety.
- The substance abuse disorder assessment must utilize assistive technologies to help you through the process. For example, if you cannot read or write, or if you are hearing-impaired, there should be people or devices that aid you.
- The assessment counselor will also ask you if you have advance directives. These indicate your wishes, for example, if you lost your ability to make your own decisions through some medical ailment or other catastrophe.
Knowing what to expect, you can take the next step toward creating a life of freedom away from substance abuse.