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The Importance of Addiction Assessment

How, When and Why Addiction Assessment is Valuable for Drug and Alcohol Treatment

When you or your loved one decide to take the important step toward seeking drug or alcohol treatment, the next critical step in the recovery process is determining the appropriate level of care via a professional addiction assessment. This is the first intake procedure in drug and alcohol therapy, and it is important because it determines what treatment (level of care, or LOC) a patient will need. Since there are major distinctions between residential, outpatient, and ambulatory care, it is essential to understand the best level of drug and alcohol treatment required for the individual to approach recovery.

Family Involvement in Addiction Assessment

Family involvement is often critical for getting a patient to seek drug and alcohol treatment. Of all addiction assessment calls received by outpatient and residential drug and alcohol treatment centers, nearly half are from a concerned loved one.

This is important to note since initial phone consultations do not need to involve the patient. Often, a consultation can help family members receive qualified and informative medical information about their loved one’s addiction so they can make an educated decision about intervention. By seeking a professional addiction assessment, the patient is served with quality, professional medical information and attention, and family members become educated about the medical components necessary for professional, effective care.

Assessing the Situation

While the approach to drug and alcohol treatment is similar across recovery programs, the need for either residential care or outpatient levels of care is dependent upon a patient’s circumstances, means, and accessibility, among other factors. An addiction assessment allows medical professionals to speak either with the patient or members of their family and determine the most appropriate level of care to address their addiction. As a result, the patient receives the precise type of care necessary for their situation and can work toward recovery in a manner best suited for their needs. These levels of care are guided by the DSM 5 criteria for substance use severity.

For example, individuals who have repeatedly enrolled in outpatient treatment programs with limited success (i.e., relapsing, not completing a program, not attending ongoing NA or AA meetings) may likely benefit from residential care. This type of drug and alcohol treatment is often ideal for addicts and/or alcoholics who need to be removed from a dangerous environment full of temptation and opportunities to abuse substances.

Residential Program

An individual who could be effectively served by an outpatient treatment program would not be an ideal candidate for residential treatment. For these patients, a residential program would be overkill and end up being more intrusive than necessary.

Finances are also an important factor to consider when determining a treatment plan. Insurance is more likely to pay for outpatient care than residential. And although residential treatment offers an unparalleled level of focused care, it will almost always represent a significantly larger investment than an outpatient treatment program. An addiction assessment helps determine whether or not residential treatment is necessary.

Determining the Level of Care through Addiction Assessment

During an assessment, medical professionals will work to learn not only what the patient needs help with, but also who they are, and why drug and alcohol addiction became a destructive element in their life. Any conditions that can perpetuate drug and alcohol abuse will be discovered and logged, such as mental illness, health problems, family involvement, spiritual needs, etc. At its root, drug and alcohol use disorders are a disease, but there are multiple potential complements to the disease that must be addressed during an addiction assessment to determine the appropriate level of care.

For example, if a patient suffers from a psychological imbalance which requires medication, is an outpatient or a residential facility best equipped to serve that patient appropriately? If the patient is deeply religious, does the drug and alcohol treatment facility offer spiritual services or resources to help the patient through the recovery process? Considering these special factors during each case means that our addiction assessors can recommend precisely the level of care each patient needs based on a holistic understanding of their drug or alcohol addiction.

An Essential Step

Overall, an addiction assessment is invaluable as the first step toward recovery, as it helps patients, family members, and medical professionals understand the best approach for treating an individual’s addiction problem. It is a professional, discreet, and caring step toward overcoming addiction and resuming a life free of drugs and alcohol.