Any time an individual needs medical or psychological treatment, the first step in developing a course of action is an assessment. When you go to the doctor for a general physical, you undergo an assessment in the form of a medical examination. When you visit your doctor for a specific symptom or set of symptoms, your doctor performs an assessment to help diagnose what condition or conditions might be causing the problems. An assessment for treatment of an addiction disorder is the same concept.
There is no cure for addiction at this time, but research has shown that it is just as treatable as other chronic conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension. In order to determine the best treatment options for any one individual, an assessment is performed.
What Does a Typical Assessment Involve?
Before treatment can be started, the providers must know precisely what their client’s condition is. During the assessment process, the providers will ask questions about the individual’s drug abuse habits. For instance, they may ask:
How often drugs are consumed?
In what amounts are drugs consumed?
What types of drugs are abused?
What are the specific drugs abused?
Does the individual mix drugs, such as opioids and alcohol or stimulants and depressants?
How long has drug abuse occurred?
This can give the providers a general idea of how severe the drug abuse problems are and how long the addiction disease has been present. In order to diagnose an addiction condition in the first place, there are certain criteria that must be met.
Only three characteristics need to be present within one year prior to assessment for a diagnosis to be made. According to the World Health Organization, those criteria include:
Compulsion to abuse drugs
Inability or difficulty controlling the level or amounts of drugs consumed
Development of a tolerance, or a necessity to consume higher doses of drugs to achieve the same high as earlier, small doses
Neglect of work, school, family responsibilities or other areas of interest to abuse drugs
Abuse of drugs even though the individual knows it is doing harm physically, psychologically or socially
Another aspect of an initial assessment may include psychological testing to determine whether there are any co-occurring disorders that have contributed to, stemmed from, or otherwise affected the drug addiction.
The experts have established that there are only a few reasons why individuals choose to abuse drugs. The first is rather self-evident; they abuse drugs to feel good. They may have been exposed to drug abuse through friends, acquaintances or family members who have told them it’s fun or exciting. They may have been abusing drugs for years and not believe it has harmed them, so they want to share that fun and excitement with others. Another reason people abuse drugs is to gain a sense of belonging. They may think everyone else is abusing drugs and if they don’t participate, they feel they will lose so-called friends.
The final reason that people abuse drugs is self-medication. They may have been introduced to drugs to feel good and participated in order to belong to a circle of friends, but they discovered that their anxiety went away when they abused drugs. They may have made a connection between the abuse of drugs and no longer feeling sad all of the time. If the individual discovers that the drugs make the symptoms of diagnosable conditions better – even if they don’t know they have a condition – they may continue to abuse drugs regularly to keep feeling better.
Drug addiction develops as a result of tolerance. Tolerance to drugs occurs when the body and brain get used to the introduction of drugs into the system and accounts for the effects. As the body accounts for the effects, the euphoric reactions are diminished. The individual must then introduce more drugs into the brain to get those feelings back. As the cycle continues, the body and brain become dependent upon the drugs and react harshly when the drug is not available.
Diagnosing a Dual Diagnosis condition is important during the assessment process, because if the co-occurring disorder is not treated and managed properly, the individual may ultimately return to drug abuse to find relief.
You may receive a thorough assessment prior to seeking the right treatment facility, or your loved one may receive the assessment during the first few days they are residing in a new treatment facility. In either situation, the assessment should be performed by trained and qualified members of the staff, and psychological testing should be conducted by licensed professionals in their field of study.
What Happens After the Assessment?
If you receive an assessment from a private provider prior to selecting a treatment program, your next step will be to find one that is equipped to care for your loved one. For instance, if you discover the presence of a co-occurring disorder, you may want to localize your search for a treatment center to those that specialize in Dual Diagnoses. You might even be able to find a center that specializes in your loved one’s exact condition.
On the other hand, if you have not been in a position to have an assessment completed prior to finding a treatment center, the assessment may take place after your loved one arrives. In this situation, the next step will consist of developing a treatment plan that fits the exact needs of your family member.
Regardless of when the assessment takes place, before admittance or after arrival, your loved one can expect to be treated with respect as they are made as comfortable as possible in their new surroundings.
What Is a Treatment Plan?
Each person who seeks treatment for drug addiction is a unique individual. One person may be dealing with issues stemming from abuse during childhood. Another may be a combat veteran who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Another person may have no diagnosable co-occurring condition at all. Each of these three examples will require treatment that is somewhat different than the others. The individual treatment plan created by their care providers will address each situation in its own unique way.
The treatment plan itself may have similar elements. For example, each of these individuals may benefit from some kind of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The particular kind of CBT used will involve concepts specific to the individual. In this way, there are no two identical treatments for addiction.
The treatment plan may also include goals or milestones that the individual can focus on as they progress in their recovery. The treatment plan should be flexible enough so that if one aspect isn’t working, alternative approaches can be utilized without difficulty. When an aspect of the plan is working well, the providers can build on that success.
Finding the Right Center Based on a Treatment Assessment
Whether your loved one has already had an assessment or you need to find a treatment program that can provide a wide range of services, we can help. Because of our experience and dedication to helping those individuals and families who have been affected by substance abuse and related conditions, we are in a position to help you narrow your choices and place you in contact with treatment providers who are ready to help you. We can also set you up with an interventionist who can help you jumpstart the process of getting your loved one into treatment. Simply pick up the phone and call us right now.