The first step to finding a solution is assessing the situation.
Why is an addiction assessment important?
An addiction assessment is one of the most important first steps a patient will take on the road to recovery. Addiction assessments are a way to understand how substances are interacting with a person’s body and life, and to determine what treatment might look like. When a licensed clinician performs an addiction assessment, it helps the patient and their medical team develop a treatment plan that will guide him or her through recovery.
When should someone get an assessment?
The question “should I or a loved one get an addiction assessment?” is one that we hear a lot, and it is not always easy to answer. The truth is that substance use disorders fall on a spectrum, and everyone’s experience of addiction is different. That being said, there are several common signs of addiction that might indicate that a person has a substance use disorder.
The signs that someone who uses drugs and/or alcohol might be struggling with an addiction include:
- Uses large amounts of the substance over a long period of time
- Is unable to reduce or control usage on their own
- Spends a lot of time thinking about the substance, using the substance, or recovering from the effects of the substance
- Has a persistent and strong desire to use the substance
- Continues to use despite negative consequences such as family, employment, medical, or psychological problems
- Develops a tolerance, finding that more and more of the substance is needed to produce the same effect
- Experiences withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the substance
Not all substance use means addiction, but if any of the signs above sounds familiar, an assessment could be a crucial next step. This is especially true if you or a loved one are thinking about seeking help. An addiction assessment can shed some light on the nature of a person’s substance use, and help him or her decide to enter rehab or not.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use and is looking for an addiction assessment, Futures of Palm Beach can help. Visit one of the pages below or give us a call at 866-351-7588 to get help immediately.
Professional Addiction Assessments
The CAGE assessment is a simple test anyone can perform to get an idea of where he or she stands. The CAGE Questionnaire is not a complete psychiatric test, and is not meant to be a professional diagnosis, but it is a great place to start getting an initial sense of a person’s addiction. CAGE stands for Cut Down, Annoyed, Guilty, and Eye Opener. Here’s what that means:
- Cut down: Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
- Annoyed: Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Guilty: Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
- Eye opener: Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
These questions aren’t meant to determine if a person has a substance use disorder or not, but to serve as a jumping-off point for other, more advanced comprehensive assessments.
Cognitive Functioning Tests
Unlike the self-administered CAGE test described above, cognitive functioning tests are professional and reliable psychiatric tools that are used to make clinical decisions about a patient’s addiction. While a wide range of cognitive functioning tests are available to clinicians, the ones most commonly used in a substance use disorder recovery setting are the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-IV), Differential Abilities Scale (DAS-II), and the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities III.
These psychological tests measure a variety of factors that can help psychologists understand addiction including IQ (WAIS-IV test), comprehension-knowledge and fluid reasoning (Woodcock-Johnson), and even cognitive behavior in children (Differential Abilities Scale). The assessments mentioned here help psychologists understand how a patient processes information, and how their learning style and cognitive ability might interact with addiction.
Not all patients who are seeking help for a substance abuse disorder will need a psychological test, but taking such a test can never hurt. Some addictions are often observed with other psychological problems, and psychological tests can greatly help understand the context of a patient’s addiction. Assessing a patient’s psychological condition in conjunction with addiction is usually done with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), Beck Anxiety Inventory, and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS).
These tests are all indexes of behaviors associated with depression and anxiety, and can help create an accurate picture of a patient’s mental health. This is important for treatment because psychological conditions like depression and anxiety can interact with addiction, which is better known as “dual diagnosis”.
“Dual diagnosis” is a clinical term that refers to co-occurring disorders. When two separate disorders occur at once, such as addiction and anxiety or addiction and depression, for example, the symptoms can be more difficult to diagnose. Because disorders interact with each other in different ways, diagnosing multiple disorders can be quite complicated.
Dual diagnoses assessments are best left to a professional. If a person is dealing with a substance use disorder and is experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, that may be the sign of co-occurring disorders, but it is not always. A mental health professional is the best person to make that distinction. Dual diagnosis prior to treatment is, however, important for establishing a treatment plan that will help the client make a lasting recovery from their substance use disorder.
Personal Addiction Assessment
When should a personal assessment be conducted?
While a personal assessment is not a good replacement for a reliable professional assessment, it can be a great place to start thinking about substance use and addiction. The best times to do a personal assessment are as a precursor to a professional assessment or along with a professional assessment. A personal assessment is good to perform before a professional assessment because it can help prepare for the results of a professional assessment.
Some patients choose instead to perform a personal assessment along with a professional assessment, to help introduce personal thoughts and experiences into the clinical test. Either way, it is important that clients perform the personal assessment in conjunction with a professional assessment.
What are some common questions in a personal assessment?
Personal assessments tend to use questions about a person’s daily life and experiences with substances.
Some common questions include:
- Do you constantly think about the next time you will drink alcohol or take drugs?
- Do you believe you must consume drugs or alcohol to get through your day?
- Do you say or do things while intoxicated that you later regret while sober?
These questions are not usually intended to diagnose the person taking the assessment outright, but instead to challenge them to think about their substance use habits.
Set Up An Addiction Assessment
An addiction assessment is a reliable way to determine if substance use can be classified as a substance use disorder, and is the first step towards getting treatment. Schedule an addiction assessment with Futures of Palm Beach for a private conversation with a professional about substance use, addiction, and how treatment might be able to help.
If wondering about addiction and the role of substances in yours or someone else’s life, schedule an addiction assessment at Futures of Palm Beach today. Our licensed professionals will be able to guide through every step of the way. In the meantime, prepare for your assessment and feel free to contact us with any questions you have.