Do You Get Drug Tested at a Substance Abuse Evaluation?

Many people wonder if they’ll get drug tested at a substance abuse evaluation when faced with having to go. This is a question that many dealing with substance abuse should know the answer to.

When you understand the workings of a substance abuse evaluation, it can keep your journey in perspective.


Talk to a therapist online and get support right now.

As an affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase services through the links provided.

Substance Abuse Evaluation: The Breakdown

First, let’s look at what exactly a substance abuse evaluation is. you can compare substance abuse evaluations to the check-ups you used to get as a kid at the doctor’s office.

Substance abuse evaluations give your treatment provider an idea of where you are with your addiction so that they can create a plan suited to your specific needs.

This evaluation allows them to check if there’s even an addiction to begin with, check for other conditions like mental health issues, and measure the extent of your drug use.

The evaluation consists of screening and an assessment. The screening is a simple overview that helps recognize if there is or is not a problem.

The assessment takes it further by finding a diagnosis and then crafting an appropriate treatment plan. You will likely have to answer questions about your substance use, health history, and if you have ever been in treatment before.

Health care professionals typically want to see how much drug or alcohol use has affected your everyday life, a key element of addiction.

Will they know I use drugs at a substance abuse evaluation?

If you plan to go into a substance abuse evaluation to hide an addiction, there’s something you need to know. Those trained to conduct substance abuse evaluations will likely figure it out anyway.

It may seem tempting to keep your addiction a secret, especially if the stakes are high. However, no matter the situation, honesty and the willingness to work with your addiction and get help are key.

There are many ways to tell if an addiction exists, but the main way is by getting drug tested at the evaluation and answering questions about your current life circumstances.

When an individual has an active addiction, their life will likely show some evidence of this. Whether it be an inability to keep a job, constant financial trouble, broken relationships, neglect of children, or damage in other areas, it can all be a red flag for addiction issues.

But don’t despair. It may benefit you to understand what addiction is. Addiction happens due to the drastic change drugs or alcohol have on your brain’s reward system. After continued use, your brain begins to prioritize the pleasure these substances provide at the cost of your overall wellbeing.

Even when you want to stop, it may be challenging. Addiction complexity is why substance abuse evaluations are so important.

You may face a substance abuse evaluation for a variety of reasons. Often this evaluation occurs in criminal justice settings, community-based programs, and other institutional settings.

Evaluations for Court-Ordered Purposes

Perhaps you are in a legal situation that involves drugs or alcohol. You should know that the courts will also need a way to gauge the extent of your substance use.

Similar to other institutions, they rely on substance abuse evaluations. So, what does a court-ordered drug and alcohol evaluation consist of? According to the National Institutes of Health, “In some criminal justice settings, only a single screening is needed, due to limited treatment options available or that providers will provide an assessment at a later stage.”

Screening can be followed by a more comprehensive assessment when several treatment options are available and more time is permissible.

These methods help the court when it comes to sentencing and follow-up. For example, if you are charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI), you must complete an assessment.

Based on the assessment results, you will likely be given a driver’s safety plan. A safety plan is one of many examples of how a substance abuse evaluation can help benefit both the individual and their community at large.

Do you get drug tested at a substance abuse evaluation in a criminal justice setting? It is widespread for drug testing to be a part of the evaluation process for court-ordered treatment.

Drug testing can help the court determine how to proceed with your case and reduce the chance of being arrested again.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

These might also interest you… 

Why Community-Based Programs Test

Next, look at why you may have to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and drug test in a community-based program.

According to the NIH, “In community settings, drug testing provides a powerful tool for treatment staff, the courts, and community supervision staff to monitor and address relapse episodes and treatment progress.”

Evaluations are necessary for these programs to continue to provide you with the services that truly benefit you and your greater community. Relapse prevention is a huge benefit as relapse can be extremely risky to your health; it can also be what involves you in risky behaviors that lead to crime.

Drug testing can allow these community programs to see what they need to do to help you in the long run.

Why Other Institutions May Test

Drug testing is often part of the standard procedure, whether applying for certain jobs or playing a sport. These institutions want to know if you are fit for the task at hand because the powerful effects of substance abuse can greatly impact performance.

It can also help verify that you stay away from drugs or serve as an early indicator when looking into residential treatment. Regardless of the setting, drug testing benefits the individual and the institution.

What Happens During a Drug Test?

What exactly happens during a drug test? Drug testing methods depend on the type of substance you are being screened for.

For example, the standard drug test they will look for employers requires a urine sample. The sample is done by sanitizing your urine and using chemistry to determine what substances appear.

Other forms of testing include

Blood testing:

Blood testing is a far less common method than urine sampling. Blood tests are less frequently used because it takes longer to detect drugs, and not all drugs show up. One example is that it can take over a month for marijuana to stop showing up in a urine sample, whereas with a blood test, it would stop after about a day.

Hair Analysis:

Hair analysis drug testing is a method done using your hair sample. The hair analysis results usually are designed to go back 90 days, even though they can detect substances in your hair shafts for up to a year. Surprisingly, hair analysis can be done using hair from almost any part of the body, at least an inch in length.

Hair analysis is usually selected to get to the bottom of an issue in serious situations. It could be matters of custody, an investigation with a professional board, or other circumstances that may require hair analysis.

It is almost impossible to fake a hair analysis test, no matter what the internet says.

Saliva testing:

Saliva tests are done by swabbing the inside of your cheeks and lips. Depending on the specific test, you may have to hold the swab in your mouth for close to a minute.

Before testing, let the providers know of any prescription drugs, medicines, or supplements you are currently on.

Why Testing and Evaluation is Important for Women

Now that you know why you get drug tested at a substance abuse evaluation, let’s examine why these evaluations are particularly important for women. Did you know that some forms of substance abuse affect women worse than men?

For alcohol abuse, in particular, women may face more serious health concerns earlier in their journey than their male counterparts.

On top of that devastating fact, women also are faced with the following hurdles:

  • High risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like HIV or AIDS
  • Increased risk of illness or injury
  • Lack of adequate health care
  • Lack of accessible childcare

All of these factors make substance abuse treatment crucial. Evaluations and testing can come in handy at countering some of these issues early on before they escalate. They are also effective in finding if issues like illness or STIs are linked to substance abuse.

The sooner women and men alike can be evaluated, the sooner they can get into treatment and begin to undo the devastating effects of substance abuse.

How to Pass a Substance Abuse Evaluation

You will most likely get drug tested at a substance abuse evaluation. Now, though, you can see that it is for your benefit. So how do you go about passing a substance abuse evaluation? First, you will want to be prepared.

The evaluation process may require a lot of information from you. In court-ordered situations, you may need to provide the appropriate documentation. You can save yourself a lot of stress by gathering relevant information beforehand.

Do not hesitate to ask your doctor, therapist, or nurse questions about the process during an evaluation. You have the right to know the ins and outs of your journey into treatment, and it may ease your mind to have that knowledge.

The same principle goes for court-ordered treatment; make sure to bring up any questions you may have to your legal team.

Finally, the only real way to ensure you pass a substance abuse evaluation is to strive for sobriety.

As drug testing is usually standard procedure, attempt to abstain from using drugs or alcohol for a while, and you will have no problem achieving a negative result. That can be easier said than done.

More often than not, if you are dealing with substance abuse, you will need help. If you believe you are battling addiction, do not attempt to face it when things have already deteriorated.

susana spiegel author headshot

Susana Spiegel

About the Contributor

Susana Spiegel is an author and recovery advocate with over 7 years in recovery from addiction. Her passion for recovery has led her to research and write extensively on the topic, with over 5 years of writing content specifically related to addiction and recovery. Susana believes that recovery is possible for anyone who is willing to put in the work and is dedicated to helping others find the strength, support, and resources they need to live a life of sobriety. Susana also has a Bachelors in Christian Studies from Grand Canyon University. 



Talk to a therapist online and get support right now.

As an affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase services through the links provided.

These might also interest you… 

Social Media

Most Popular

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

New articles about addiction, treatment, and recovery sent directly to you! 


On Key

Related Posts

man searches online how to pass a drug test

How Can I Pass A Drug Test?

Reading Time: 6 minutes Navigating the job market is hard enough in normal circumstances. That stress magnifies when you have to figure out how to pass a drug test. While

Read More »
ocean with sunlight peeking through the clouds to symbolize hope after grief
Addiction and Mental Health

The Guide to Grief and Relapse

Reading Time: 10 minutes Grief and relapse is an important topic in the realm of recovery. Grief is a difficult process to go through after losing a loved one.

Read More »

Get help and rebuild your life.

Recovery Starts Today

Drug and alcohol treatment is available for all financial situations. Insurance, medicaid, medicare, no insurance, more. Call now!