The chemical dependency (CD) evaluation is a structured interview to determine if a person has a diagnosable alcohol or drug use disorder. It is used in the state of Minnesota by drug treatment centers, district courts (often court-ordered), probation agencies, and employers. There are eleven symptoms of addiction, referred to in the medical community as substance use disorders, and these symptoms are screened for during the CD evaluation. The person being evaluated will meet with a licensed assessor, who is generally a trained psychotherapist. The interview is interactive. While most agencies have a series of preplanned questions, it is common for additional follow-up and clarifying questions to be asked.
When a CD evaluation is court ordered, the stakes are incredibly high. The person being assessed will be asked to provide the results and recommendations to court-related parties. The judge and prosecutor will generally set the condition that a person follow each and every recommendation made on the evaluation during criminal court proceedings. The assigned probation agent will oversee the completion of evaluation recommendations. These include such things as intensive alcohol/drug treatment, drug testing, and recommendations made on alcohol consumption during the probationary period. When the person being evaluated feels there is an error in the report, and the person feels they are being asked to do things that they are uncomfortable with, frustration and disappointment can occur.
It is of high importance to complete your assessment at an independent evaluation center, seperate from the for-profit treatment industry. This is important for a number of reasons. First, independent CD evaluators lack incentives to send or not send people to treatment. They are unbiased in nature, and therefore, their recommendations oftentimes are more precise. Second, private chemical assessments are generally conducted by highly-trained therapists with advanced education. They can serve as credible advocates during family and criminal court cases. Third, due to their advanced education and training, assessments and addiction diagnoses are oftentimes more accurate due to their use of more exhaustive diagnosing tools. Lastly, when help is requested for alcohol and drug problems, independent CD evaluation centers refer a person to the best possible treatment options available – unlike for-profit rehabs that generally recruit people directly into their programs, which according to this report on the treatment industry, can be of low quality and ineffective.
The state’s best agency is Chemical Dependency Evaluations of Minnesota - call (612) 263-9677. They are open Monday through Saturday and offer day or night appointments. What makes this agency different is that the therapists are specially trained to serve as advocates for their clients. This can have a positive impact when there is family pressure or court involvement due to DUI, DWI, or a drug charge. Their therapists are trained to be client-centered and nonjudgmental, helping to ensure a positive experience. They also seek out input from the person being assessed to ensure the client is listened to during the assessment process.
During the interview, the person being evaluated will be asked a wide rang of questions on day-to-day life, health, background information, and past/current substance use or abuse. Of focus will be questions on the eleven symptoms people with addictive disorders experience. For example, if a person has experienced problems related to their chemical use, developed a tolerance, or are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Past history of attending drug treatment Alcoholics Anonymous or other support groups would be asked. Being honest and open helps to ensure that the results and recommendations in the evaluation report are accurate and helpful.
When you arrive, you can expect to complete some intake paperwork. A notice of privacy practices will be provided that provides a clear explanation of client rights and how personal health information is used. Forms will need to be signed consenting to the assessment process and the involvement of third parties. Following the paperwork, the client will be interviewed by a licensed chemical dependency evaluator. The interview lasts for about one hour and oftentimes there is follow-up consultation completed by phone in the days following the appointment.
One of the most common concerns is that a person will be misdiagnosed and/or asked to complete treatment when disinterested in alcohol or drug counseling. Feeling “forced” into treatment can cause negative emotions. Two things are very important to have a good experience at the evaluation. First, complete the assessment at a private/independent center – such as Chemical Dependency Evaluations of Minnesota - call (612) 263-9677. Second, be open about your wants and needs. It is okay to tell the evaluator if you are seeking treatment or not. Just like any other area of health care, you have the right to choose and refuse treatment services.