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Drug and Alcohol Evaluation

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

November 20, 2023 (Originally Published)

November 22, 2023 (Last Updated)

Table of Contents

A drug and alcohol evaluation is a method of assessing substance misuse.

These evaluations can determine whether you have used drugs or alcohol in a given timeframe, and they can also help identify substance abuse issues. 

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You may find a prospective employer requires you to undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation as a condition of employment. Attorneys also sometimes use these substance assessments to help support cases for both defendants and claimants. 

Sometimes, addiction treatment centers utilize a drug and alcohol evaluation to establish the most appropriate level of care for your needs.

Additionally, courts sometimes mandate drug and alcohol evaluations following unlawful acts involving drugs or alcohol – a DUI, for instance. 

So, drug and alcohol evaluations are used in many circumstances, but what can you expect from one of these assessments? 

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What is a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation?

An alcohol and drug evaluation can help to pinpoint the following: 

  • Alcoholism (alcohol use disorder)

  • Drug addiction (substance use disorder)

  • Scope and severity of substance use

  • Dual diagnosis (co-occurring mental health condition like anxiety or depression)

  • The overall impact of substance abuse or alcohol abuse on your life

  • Components required for an effective treatment plan

Drug and alcohol evaluations provide a deep dive into the scale of substance use for the purpose of both diagnosis and making recommendations for addiction treatment. 

An evaluation will probe the following: 

  • Type of substance used

  • Dosage used

  • Frequency of use

This will help the person conducting the evaluation to flesh out an overall picture of the history of alcohol or drug use.

These assessments can also help provide a clearer picture of the general circumstances of the person abusing substances, as well as the extent of substance use. 

Alcohol and drug evaluations can also guide treatment providers toward the most suitable solution for the issue at hand. 

Evaluations typically unfold with these two core components: 

The assessment is the analytical phase of the evaluation. The goal is to determine what the problem is. Drug tests are often required at this stage.

The assessment is the analytical phase of the evaluation. The goal is to determine what the problem is. Drug tests are often required at this stage.

Some evaluations also include these additional steps: 

When treatment or counseling is required, a follow-up is scheduled. This appointment will be contingent on the results of the screening and subsequent assessment. The objective of the follow-up is to check how the person is doing.

The final phase of a drug and alcohol evaluation can result in a treatment program, treatment center, or counselor being recommended to the person. This referral will also depend on the results of the above steps in the evaluation.

Rather than viewing a drug and alcohol evaluation as an intimidating imposition, instead, consider this conversation with a doctor as an opportunity to discover more about addiction. You can also use an assessment of this nature to ensure you are connected with the resources and tools you need to get sober and stay sober. 

two people in an evaluation session representing alcohol evaluation

Court-Ordered Evaluation

Judges sometimes order a drug or alcohol evaluation for the court, usually when the case involves substance abuse. Depending on the state in which the crime was committed, a court-ordered drug and alcohol evaluation might be part of the sentencing procedure. 

These are the most common types of cases and legal issues where alcohol and drug evaluations are required: 

  • DUI (driving under the influence)

  • Possession of drugs

  • Public intoxication

  • Reckless driving

  • Possession of alcohol by minors

  • Use of fake IDs to purchase or consume alcohol

  • Disorderly conduct while intoxicated

  • Drug trafficking

  • Drug distribution

  • Manufacturing of controlled substances

Substance evaluations must be conducted by state-certified agencies. 

The cost of drug and alcohol assessments varies but normally falls between $100 and $150.

The process of a court-ordered drug and alcohol assessment calls for you to provide the following documents: 

  • Copies of arrests

  • Copies of arrest reports

  • Criminal history

  • Report of driving history from DMV or DDS

  • Assessment from DUI RRP (risk reduction program)

In addition to these documents, you will also provide an interview discussing your substance use history.

Some people facing a drug and alcohol evaluation fear this assessment could lead to more trouble. This is not true, though. Instead, an evaluation is the beginning of a potential treatment process, and it might also benefit you from a legal standpoint. Taking a pre-emptive test indicates a willingness to cooperate on your part, and it can also inform a judge when it comes to appropriate sentencing. The judge may even recommend counseling, courses, or addiction therapy rather than a more punitive sentence.

When the judge has the results and analysis of the drug and alcohol evaluation, they can make a decision. The next steps will hinge on these conclusions, and also on the findings of the practitioner. Options include: 

  • Substance abuse classes

  • Counseling

  • Group therapy

  • Alcoholics Anonymous meetings

  • Narcotics Anonymous meetings

  • Inpatient rehab

  • Outpatient rehab

  • Random alcohol screening

  • Random drug screening

  • Engaging with a DUI RRP for alcohol or drug use

Where to Get a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation

If you need a drug or alcohol evaluation but aren’t sure where to find the service, there are a few ways to find an alcohol and drug assessment near you.

A simple internet search of any of the following resources should provide you with a solution:

  • Local counselors or mental health clinics
  • Therapists or counselors
  • Addiction treatment centers (rehabs, etc.)
  • Community health clinics
  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs)
  • Virtual assessments


While these resources are a great place to start looking for a drug and alcohol evaluation, it should be noted that if you have been ordered by a court to have a drug and alcohol assessment done, you should make sure to use the resources they give you to find a place to get tested, as they usually require specific alcohol and drug evaluation facilities that have been specifically chosen. 

man getting a drug and alcohol evaluation

What to Expect at a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation

A trained professional will conduct a drug and alcohol evaluation. Licensed professionals specializing in the understanding of human behavior – nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists – are usually responsible for evaluations. These evaluations can also be conducted online. 

The core focus of an evaluation is a series of questions intended to help the assessor better understand your condition. 

Physical examinations and drug tests are also commonly utilized. 

The goal of the initial screening phase, as mentioned above, is to establish whether a treatable condition exists. Screening can also help determine whether you are at risk even if you have not yet developed alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder. 

Screening is not a substitute for diagnosis, but it serves to establish whether or not you have a problem.

The following questionnaires are used in drug and alcohol evaluations: 

  • CAGE questionnaire: This brief assessment includes just four questions on substance use. The accuracy of results depends on answering the questions honestly.

  • AUI (alcohol use inventory): Focusing purely on alcohol abuse, this questionnaire also needs answering honestly. All aspects of your life and lifestyle are considered to add a layer of context to choices made concerning alcohol abuse.

  • State government inventory: When the questionnaire used is created by the state, this can be used in isolation or in combination with other questionnaires.

  • SASSI (substance abuse subtle screening inventory): This test has a 93% accuracy rate, analyzing more than the risk of substance abuse. This test will also indicate whether you are willing to acknowledge the problem and whether you are prepared to make changes. The SASSI also shines a light on whether substance use is limited to social use, and also the severity of any substance use disorder.

If the results of this initial screening are positive and it seems likely you have a substance use disorder, the assessment is the next step. 

The purpose of the research and analysis is to establish proof of a treatable condition, as well as to identify symptoms and any co-occurring disorders.

Drug and Alcohol Evaluation FAQs

There are many places where you can get a drug and alcohol evaluation. Some common options include:

  • Your doctor: Your doctor can provide you with a drug and alcohol evaluation, and can also refer you to treatment if needed.

  • A substance abuse treatment center: Substance abuse treatment centers offer comprehensive evaluations and treatment services for people with drug and alcohol problems.

  • A mental health professional: A mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, can also provide you with a drug and alcohol evaluation.

  • A court-ordered evaluation: If you have been ordered by the court to get a drug and alcohol evaluation, you will need to go to a qualified evaluator.

How Do I Get a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation?

Once you have chosen a place to get a substance abuse evaluation, you will need to schedule an appointment. The evaluator will ask you questions about your drug and alcohol use, and may also give you a physical exam and a drug test. The evaluator will then provide you with a written report that will include their findings and recommendations.

Here are some additional tips for getting a drug and alcohol evaluation:

  • Be honest with the evaluator. The evaluator can only help you if you are honest with them about your drug and alcohol use.

  • Ask questions. If you have any questions about the evaluation process, be sure to ask the evaluator.

  • Be prepared to follow the recommendations. The evaluator will provide you with recommendations for treatment or other services. Be prepared to follow these recommendations to get the help you need.

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Addiction Treatment at Renaissance Recovery

Regardless of whether you are grappling with a substance abuse problem, alcohol use disorder, or co-occurring disorder, discovering the problem is just the first step. We can help you reclaim your life here at Renaissance Recovery. 

We specialize in the outpatient treatment of addiction, offering programs at varying levels of intensity, including IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs). 

Through a combination of medication-assisted treatment, psychotherapy – typically CBT or DBT – and counseling, you can build a solid foundation for sustained recovery, and we’ll help you every step of the way. We also provide access to a variety of holistic therapies – adventure therapy, for instance – giving you a whole-body approach to recovery as well as evidence-based treatments. 

If you feel you would benefit from gender-specific rehab, we offer dedicated men’s programs and women’s programs, allowing everyone to kickstart their recovery in the optimum environment. 

Once you complete your treatment program, we’ll ensure you have a robust aftercare plan and relapse management plan in place. You can also take advantage of our alumni program to stay connected with your new sober network once you transition back into everyday living substance-free. 

All you need to do is take that first crucial step: contact our admissions team right now at 866.330.9449 and get help for whatever substance use disorders you are dealing with.


At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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