Intake: Drug and Alcohol Assessment

The first step to starting treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is to be evaluated by a substance abuse professional. To begin treatment you will make an appointment at a treatment facility for an assessment, called an intake.

The intake usually lasts an hour or more and during it you will be asked a variety of questions. The purpose of the assessment is to get a better understand of your substance abuse problem and to evaluate what level of treatment will best suit your needs. During the evaluation, you will be asked a variety of questions such as:

  • Why have you decided to begin treatment?
  • How motivated do you feel towards treatment?
  • When did you first begin using drugs and alcohol?
  • How often and how much do you use?
  • What types of substances do you use?
  • How has drug or alcohol abuse impacted your life?
  • Do you have any mental health issues?
  • What is your medical history?
  • What prescription medications are you taking?
  • Are you having any legal issues?
  • How much school have you completed?
  • Are you currently employed?
  • What is your employment history?
  • Are you experiencing any financial problems at the moment?
  • Are there any issues within your family or with your spouse/partner?
  • Where are you currently living?
  • Have you ever had drug and alcohol treatment before?
  • Have you ever had prior mental health treatment?
  • Are there any cultural factors relevant to your abuse issues?

All information that you give during an intake is confidential. (The only exception to this is if the intake therapist feels that you might be a danger to yourself or someone else. In this instance, they are legally mandated to contact the proper authorities even if you do not give them permission.) However, the intake therapist is likely to ask you to sign releases so that they can talk to people involved in your treatment, such as your spouse, probation officer, lawyer, or mental health therapist. During the intake, it is important to be as honest as possible. Only when the intake therapist has the most accurate information about you can they recommend the proper treatment. The assessment process is also an opportunity for you to get any questions that you may have about treatment answered. Make sure and find out specifics of the program, expectations, and cost. At the end of the intake, the evaluator will make a recommendation for treatment and possibly assign a therapist. If completing outpatient treatment, you are likely to begin within a week. If you need a higher level of care, the intake therapist will probably try to get you into a facility that same day.

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