What Happens at a Drug or Alcohol Evaluation In Michigan?

Don’t know what to expect at a drug or alcohol assessment? We’ll walk you through the basics.

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Don’t know what to expect at a drug or alcohol assessment? We’ll walk you through the basics.

Whether you’ve been court-ordered to get an alcohol or substance abuse evaluation in Michigan, or just recommended to do so by your legal team, it can be a simple process.

What is a drug or alcohol assessment?

A drug or alcohol assessment (also called an alcohol or substance abuse evaluation) is made up of screening, assessment, follow-up, and referral services.

Screening involves screening clients to determine if addiction or co-occurring disorders are present. Screening often involves a set of basic yes or no questions.

An example of a screening test question: “Has anyone ever expressed concern with your alcohol use?”

Assessment, the second part of the evaluation, is focused on defining the nature of any problem that exists. If screening is trying to determine if there is a problem, then assessment seeks to determine the depth of the problem and develop a treatment plan for the future.

Assessment questions might focus in on you family background and history, your age of first drug use or alcohol use, and your family history of substance misuse issues.

Assessments sometimes include a quick drug test, with immediate results onsite.

Follow-up, the third part of the substance abuse evaluation, is not always necessary. Sometimes, follow-up is recommended when the treatment plan determines counseling or other treatment is needed. This isn’t always the case, and is up to the counselor based on each individual client’s evaluation and assessment.

Referral, the fourth part of the evaluation, includes referring clients to appropriate treatment resources when necessary. For example, if someone is struggling with a severe alcohol use disorder, they may need inpatient treatment. Your assessment provider can help escalate care to the correct level by providing a referral if necessary.

Why are people required to get alcohol or drug (sometimes called substance abuse) assessments?

You can be required to get an assessment for many reasons. For probation compliance, to get your license back after a DUI, or your attorney might recommend that you take an assessment preemptively before a court case that involves substance use.

What if I don’t think I have a problem with drugs or alcohol?

If you don’t think you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, you may have just caught a bad break with the legal system. This doesn’t mean that you need to lie or try to cheat on your evaluation, however.

If you answer the questions honestly and tell the counselor about your experiences, behavior, and feelings about alcohol and drugs, your lack of a problem should come through loud and clear. The counselor doesn’t think anyone sent to get a drug or alcohol evaluation is guilty of something, and they’re not out to snag you or prove anything.

Clinicians are nonjudgemental and objective. During an assessment, the clinician acts as a totally unbiased third party, and will take your answers at face value.

What is the CAGE alcohol assessment

The CAGE questionnaire is a basic, four-question screener used to determine if anyone may have a problem with drinking. It can be used by care providers in any setting to screen quickly for a problem with alcohol.

The four questions on the CAGE screener are:

  1. Have you ever felt you needed to Cut down on your drinking?
  2. Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  3. Have you ever felt Guilty about drinking?
  4. Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

This is a very brief screening tool, however, and most alcohol evaluations use a more in-depth assessment like the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test, or the ASSIST test designed by the World Health Organization.

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