The doorway to treatment and recovery from substance abuse disorder opens with an assessment. Many people are nervous, intimidated or uncomfortable prior to an assessment, but there’s nothing to fear at Lake Substance Abuse Solutions.

While there’s no single answer or way clinicians determine if an individual is suffering from substance abuse disorder, there is an extensive evaluation process tailored to meet the needs of every person who seeks help. Accepting the fact that they need treatment can be embarrassing or shameful for a person, so knowing more about how the process begins can aid them in finally reaching out and seeking help.

What Are Substance Use Disorders?

Substance use disorders are a disease like any other medical condition affecting brain function and everyday behavior. It leads to a dependence on drugs, alcohol or medications; if addicted, the individual continues to use the drug even if it’s harming them. Addiction often begins with the experimental use of a recreational drug during social situations, like smoking marijuana at a party, but that drug use becomes more recurrent in some people. Every drug is different, so there’s no single way to determine if someone will develop an addiction.

With the help of a supportive network and the trained caretakers at our substance abuse and disorder treatment centers, taking the first step to overcoming addiction and staying drug-free is finally within reach.

Why Do I Need A Substance Use Disorder Assessment?

There are a few reasons clinicians perform a substance abuse assessment. Mainly, it’s to determine if an individual meets the criteria for a substance use disorder diagnosis and, if so, how severe the disorder is at that time. Other reasons include finding out if there’s a comorbid disorder or other drugs being used and to learn how much substance use affects the person’s daily life.

The information gathered during the evaluation is private and only used to create and perfect a personalized treatment plan to focus on recovery during a person’s time at Lake Substance Abuse Solutions.

Substance Use Disorder Evaluation Components

There are two sections of a substance use disorder evaluation, set by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: a screening and an assessment.

Substance Abuse Screening

The primary purpose of a screening is to determine if the individual’s drug abuse needs further testing to see if they have a substance use disorder. If the results of the screening read yes (positive), then an additional assessment is warranted.

Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI)

This is a self-report test that is easy to take, administer and score. Evidence suggests this screening test is 93 percent accurate when used to diagnose a substance use disorder.

TAPS (Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drugs)

This is a more in-depth test that can be administered in-person or online. It looks at past and recent substance use habits, and results must be reviewed by a professional.

BSTAD (Brief Screener For Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs)

This test is used only by teens and adolescents and involves an online self-assessment to be reviewed by a professional.

CAGE Questionnaire

This brief and non-invasive test asks only four questions and requires the individual to be completely honest about their use habits. It is named by the four questions used in the assessment.


Screenings for specific drugs, like opioids and alcohol, are also available. It’s very important to understand that screenings are not full assessments but rather used to evaluate whether further assessment is needed for specific individuals.

Substance Abuse Assessment

Unlike the initial screening tests, a substance abuse disorder assessment is more detailed, exploring and expanding upon the results of the screenings. The assessment involves gathering a thorough history of the individual including prior/current substance use, physical health, mental health, medical and family history, and personal history.

The interview is either structured or semi-structured. Most clinicians use either the Structured Clinical Interview or the Addiction Severity Index. For both of these assessments, it’s common for more than one person to be conducting the interviews. For the Structured Clinical Interview, questions are derived from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a manual used by all mental health clinicians and professionals. The Addiction Severity Index asks about recent and past substance use so a pattern of abuse can be documented. It also gives a comprehensive assessment of seven areas affected by addiction. These results focus on recovery goals and help build a perfect treatment planned custom for the individual.

What Does This Assessment Mean For Treatment?

These screenings and assessments are conducted to see how drug addiction is affecting the life of the individual. A thorough history of past abuse, triggers, and drugs is gathered to design a plan for treating the individual in the best-suited environment.

If you are struggling with SUD (substance use disorders), contact Lake Substance Abuse Solutions, an addiction treatment center with locations in Jeffersonville, IN, and Franklin, KY. With customized treatments for each individual, our goal is to get your life back on track. Contact us today to schedule a substance use disorder assessment.

Who Carries Out A Substance Use Disorder Assessment?

Dr. Shelton and his team at Lake Substance Abuse Solutions are mental health professionals and clinicians who’ve been trained to properly administer these screenings and assessments. All of these results are confidential and only used to craft a personalized treatment plan aimed at rehabilitation and recovery.