Substance Abuse / Use Evaluation and Screening

Substance use evaluations are provided to determine the extent of use, abuse or dependence on alcohol and/or drugs. This evaluation will help guide treatment and make additional recommendations based on each person’s individual needs.

Screening is a preliminary evaluation that attempts to determine whether key features of drug or alcohol abuse are present in an individual. Screening indicates whether the problem of drug or alcohol abuse is likely to be present.

Assessment is a thorough evaluation designed to definitively establish the presence or absence of a diagnosable drug / alcohol abuse problem. The results of the assessment also suggest what is likely to be the most appropriate type of treatment when the problems are evident.

Why are screening and assessment necessary?

The aim of screening is to identify as many potential or actual abusers as early in their use or abuse history as possible so appropriate intervention services can be provided. Thus, the process is twofold. Individuals are screened to identify the potential presence of an alcohol- or drug-related problem, while the assessment stage takes the process a step further and confirms the existence of a problem, identifies the nature of the problem(s), and suggests appropriate avenues of treatment.

What are the capabilities of drug testing?

Drug testing, such as through urinalysis, provides an objective or impartial measure of drug use. This objective measure stands in contrast to self-report measures of drug use, in which individuals are asked to describe subjectively their alcohol- or drug-using behaviors. Research has consistently documented that objective measures of drug use are more reliable indicators of actual drug use than self-report measures. Simply put, individuals are naturally inclined to hide embarrassing behaviors when given the chance to do so. Drug tests greatly reduce the likelihood of hiding recent drug-using behaviors.

Drug tests, like urinalysis, detect the presence of most drugs within 72 hours of use. After this window has passed, most drugs become undetectable. The exception is marijuana, which can be detected in urine for up to 30 days. Most drug tests cannot, however, identify historical use or drug dependence. Drug tests can only stipulate whether an individual has used a particular drug recently.