Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 8/16/2021
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.
Regardless of your evaluation outcome, you will have a marker for where you are in your journey and know how to adjust accordingly. Substance abuse evaluations also let the people who oversee your treatment ensure that you stay clean and keep track of your health.
Here we will discuss all you need to know about substance abuse evaluations, what they consist of, and how to make sure you pass them. If you need more information on substance abuse evaluations, give us a call today at 1-888-906-0952! We can help get you connected to a professional who will fully understand your next steps.
Substance Abuse Evaluation: The Breakdown
First, let’s take a look at what exactly a substance abuse evaluation is. Substance abuse evaluations can be compared 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.
According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 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 a bit 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.
Addiction is Tricky to Define
Knowing this may also 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 costs 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 to the fact that providers will provide an assessment at a later stage.” When several treatment options are available and more time is permissible, screening can be followed by a more comprehensive assessment.
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 will be required to complete an assessment. Based on the results of the assessment, 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.
In a criminal justice setting, do you get drug tested at a substance abuse evaluation? 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 you winding up arrested again.
Why Community-Based Programs Test
Next, let’s take a 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 cannot only be extremely risky to your health; it also can be what involves you in risky behaviors that lead to crime. Drug testing can allow these community programs to see specifically what they need to do to help you in the long run.
Why Other Institutions May Test
Whether applying for certain jobs or playing a sport, drug testing is often part of the standard procedure. 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 both 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 that you are being screened for. For example, for employers, the standard drug test they will look for requires a urine sample. The sample is done by sanitarily collecting your urine and using chemistry to determine what substances show up.
Other forms of testing include:
Blood testing: this 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 showing up after about a day.
Hair Analysis: drug testing through this method is done using a sample of your hair. Similar to a blood test, this is also a test you won’t see used frequently. The hair analysis results are unreliable, even though they can detect leftover drugs 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.
Saliva testing: these 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. The downfall of saliva testing is that it’s unreliable for spotting most drugs. For a positive result, you would have had to use the drug fairly recently.
Before testing, be sure to 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 can 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 child care
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
Ultimately, 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 any 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. The sooner you get help, the sooner you get back your health. We can help you get started. Give us a call today at 1-888-906-0952 to find a professional treatment center in your area.
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If you are faced with a substance abuse evaluation that may not result in a favorable outcome, drug and alcohol treatment can be a viable solution. Call us today to learn more.