What’s a Substance Abuse Assessment?

Ellen Fix

September is National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Month. For many people, a major step toward recovery was getting a substance abuse assessment.

Depending on the individual’s circumstance, the reason one may seek an assessment could be:

  • Required: a person is legally required to get one
  • Highly Recommended: not required, but helpful for current situation
  • Voluntary: the individual is concerned with their alcohol or drug patterns

Based on these reasons, there are three different assessment types.

Substance Abuse Assessment Order

#1 The Court Ordered Assessment

Overview:
When the courts require a person to have an assessment, based on a pending charge of “Driving While Intoxicated” or having a drug charge, they are looking for a historical perspective on the person being assessed to determine whether or not the person is at a high risk of addiction and possibly continuing to make poor choices.

Process:
This assessment reviews the reasons the person is having the assessment, past treatment or legal issues, and then some information about the  person’s formative years, health, plus school and work history.

From this information, as well as using a screening tool, a therapist then writes a report, which is given to the court. It may also have treatment recommendations in it as well as diagnostic codes.

It is summary of the person and possible influences to which the person put themselves in their current situation. The services of an attorney are always involved.

Cost:
Out of pocket expense. This is not covered by any insurance plan.

Substance Abuse Assessment Driving#2 The Michigan Driver’s License Assessment

Overview:
This assessment tools allows the State of Michigan to measure how much progress a person has made since their driving privileges have been revoked.

Process:
The State of Michigan provides the paperwork, which is completed by a licensed therapist. The person will also complete screening tools, provide a 10 panel drug screen to the hearing date, as well as have several letters of recommendation, which must be notarized prior to being submitted to the State of Michigan.

Some individuals hire an attorney to help them with this process, but this is not a requirement. The services of an attorney are not required, but their services can be used.

Cost:
This is not covered by any insurance plan.

Substance Abuse Assessment Personal


#3 Personal Reasons

Overview:
This is a verbal assessment is completed without a formal written report. These outcomes are usually successful as a person is self-motivated to improve their life.

Process:
A treatment plan is developed and “best treatment” modalities are discussed.

Cost:
This is usually covered by most insurance plans. Costs can vary, but make sure your work with a qualified therapist. Sometimes paying more for a professional with experience is better than with someone who charges less.

A well-written report not only reflects the true character of the person being assessed, but allows the courts, the state or themselves, the opportunities that sobriety can offer.

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Ellen Fix, LMSW, CAADC
Ellen completed her Master in Social Work at Grand Valley State University in 1993. She is licensed in the State of Michigan as a Psychotherapist, a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and a Neurotherapist. She currently practices at the Fountain Hill Center.
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