Court-ordered Drug and Alcohol Evaluation and Co-occurring Disorders
Who receives a court-ordered drug or alcohol evaluation?
If you are arrested for an alcohol related offense (such as Driving Under the Influence, DUI), or on drug related charges (such as illegal drug possession), you will likely be ordered by a judge to participate in a comprehensive drug and alcohol evaluation. In this scenario, the legal officials will use the information in determining the outcome of your criminal case, and what requirements the court will place on you during and at the end of your case.
When the court orders an alcohol and drug assessment, you will be told by the court, or the Corrections department (or even your attorney) where you should go for the assessment. Keep in mind, evaluation professionals will need a copy of your driving record, a copy of your criminal history, and a copy of the arresting officer’s report.
The assessment interview usually lasts one to two hours, while you meet with trained professionals in the area of addictions. They will give you a written assessment, probably consisting of multiple yes/no questions, and conduct an in-person, face-to-face interview, perhaps even interviewing people close to you to get an adequate picture of your pattern of use. They may give you a medical exam, and urine test to screen for the presence of alcohol or illicit drugs. The clinician will then produce a written report which is intended to provide a clear picture of your history of alcohol or drug use, identify the underlying issues which may have initiated the reliance on alcohol or drugs, and why it persists.
This report may be used in the following ways:
by your lawyer to argue on your behalf that the sentence should include Alcohol and Drug counseling or treatment (either inpatient or outpatient depending on the results)
by the judge to impose conditions on your sentence (such as attending counseling)
by the counseling agency you may eventually attend as the basis for the treatment they provide.
Co-Occurring Disorder Assessment
A key part of the Alcohol and Drug Evaluation is the co-occurring disorder assessment. Alcohol and drug use may become problematic due to a physical or mental health disorder. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 37 percent of people suffering from alcoholism and 53 percent of drug users have at least one serious mental illness. If these conditions go untreated, it can mean the addict will be more likely to relapse into addictive behaviors. Therefore, diagnosing and treating a co-occurring disorder is as important as treating the drug or alcohol addiction.
Of all the tools at the clinician's disposal, observation of symptoms and discussions with relatives or those close to the individual will be the most useful in diagnosing a co-occurring disorder.
Here are a few disorders that may be diagnosed during or after a drug or alcohol evaluation and a few symptoms associated with each of them:
Depression - Symptoms include fatigue, loss of energy, excessive sleeping or insomnia, inability to concentrate
Anxiety - Symptoms include difficulty controlling worry, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and sleep disturbances
Post-Traumatic Stress - Symptoms include mentally re-living the trauma, hyper-arousal, dissociation, cognitive and behavioral avoidance
Psychosis - Symptoms include visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech
Liver Disease - Signs of liver disease include jaundice , easy bruising, edema, mental confusion, kidney failure, fatigue, vague abdominal pain
Kidney Disease - Symptoms include lethargy, edema, metabolic acidosis, high potassium levels, uremia, and anemia
Malnutrition - Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, weight loss, irritability, bone or joint pain, bloated abdomen, edema, brittle nails, dry skin, hair loss, changes in skin and hair color, slow wound healing, loss of appetite, and sunken temples
If you have a co-occurring disorder, and receive treatment for the addiction only, recovery may not be the most effective, as the disorder can hinder the process and aggravate health issues related to the addiction. One way to avoid this is to be forthcoming in the interview process of the drug and alcohol assessment.
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If you or a loved one has received a court-ordered drug or alcohol evaluation or if you are searching for freedom from drug and alcohol addiction do not hesitate to contact us for advice or a complimentary and confidential consultation. We are here to assist you right now - 1.713.907.5632.