The Importance of Initial Assessments

Initial assessments are a critical part of the treatment process. They allow treatment professionals and clinicians to develop the most effective care plan. Each Individual struggling with an addiction looks different. One of the first things a treatment center needs to know is what substance you are addicted to. Assessments help them do that. These also help identify any challenges with co-occurring disorders and other factors that may affect treatment and recovery. Treatment is most effective when individualized. An assessment will help with developing that individualized treatment plan. 

Assessments typically take place during a facility's admissions process. Consider discussing addiction treatment with your doctor, medical provider, or mental health professional today to learn more about what to expect from an initial assessment. These professionals can also make referrals and recommendations for treatment facilities that can help you achieve recovery. 

Types of Addictions

One of the first things an assessment does is determine the addiction you are struggling with. The most well-known forms of addiction are drugs or alcohol, but you may also struggle with behavioral addictions like gambling or gaming. 

During admissions, staff members or clinicians will gather information to gauge your experience with anything mentioned above. It will help them better determine how they can help you by creating an individualized treatment plan. The type, severity, and length of your addiction make for slightly different treatment paths, meaning you can expect a unique plan.

Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines SUD as a "mental disorder that affects a person's brain and behavior, leading to a person's inability to control their use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications." Treatment will vary depending on the substance, considering how long you've been using it and additional substances you may have used simultaneously. 

One of the most common SUDs individuals struggle with is alcohol use disorder (AUD), also known as alcoholism, alcohol addiction, or alcohol dependency. Overcoming AUD can prove challenging for many because alcohol is accepted in our culture. Family gatherings, hanging out with friends, and even office parties typically include alcohol. Therefore, abstaining can be difficult, especially in early recovery. Nevertheless, your individualized treatment plan will consider this and other factors. Professionals can work with you to create a relapse prevention plan. 

Treatment for AUD may differ from treatment for prescription drugs or opioids. A residential treatment program provides a safe space to experiment with different therapeutic modalities. You will most likely be exposed to behavioral therapies, medication-assisted treatment, and alternative practices that provide a whole-person approach to healing. 

Behavioral Addictions

Other common addictions are behavioral addictions. Behavioral addictions differ from SUD; with these, you do not become dependent on substances. Instead, you become dependent on behaviors. Some of the most common behavioral addictions include gambling, sex, shopping, gaming, food, and the internet, to name a few. 

Behavioral therapies and holistic alternatives can effectively treat a behavioral addiction. Like SUD, an individualized care plan can help you learn alternative coping mechanisms that help you avoid addictive habits.

Behavioral addiction may develop as a response to trauma or the inability to cope with stress, mental illness, or other factors. Such dysfunctional behaviors—like gambling—serve as a coping mechanism to handle distress. Talk therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) help you identify and change harmful habits, compulsions, and dependencies. 

Determining Co-Occurring Disorders Through Initial Assessments

As mentioned, part of the initial assessment involves clinicians getting to know a client. The process includes learning about any co-occurring disorders you may be struggling with. Co-occurring disorders are when you have substance use and mental health disorders concurrently. During initial assessments, clinicians will determine if you require treatment for co-occurring disorders. If you do, a dual diagnosis program can effectively treat all conditions. 

If left untreated, addiction and co-occurring disorders can progressively become worse. Symptoms of one exacerbate symptoms of the other. Over time, other chronic conditions or mental illnesses can develop. Therefore, it is vital to seek treatment for all conditions involved. Untreated mental illness symptoms can increase your risk of relapse if you only receive treatment for SUD. 

Initial Assessments and NorthStar Transitions

At NorthStar Transitions, we assess all prospective clients before they enter our program. Contact typically begins when an individual with SUD or their family reaches out to inquire about our programs. Upon verifying insurance and discussing finances, we conduct a pre-admission assessment over the phone with you. The assessment helps our clinicians determine the most appropriate program or path of treatment. 

Once the initial assessment and admissions process are complete, you can begin your path to recovery. It can be daunting at first, answering questions and being vulnerable about your struggles. However, it's a necessary step when striving for a life of recovery. 

The journey from active addiction to recovery can be long and challenging and requires many steps. The first step upon accepting your struggle and finding an addiction treatment program is going through an initial assessment. This assessment helps clinicians understand the severity of your situation and determine the most appropriate treatment options. They help professionals learn about the substance or behavior you are dependent on, how long you have had the problem, and if there are co-occurring disorders to consider. Many facilities, like NorthStar Transitions, conduct initial or pre-assessments during the admissions process. Going through these assessments is a vital first step in achieving a life of recovery. For help, call NorthStar at (303) 558-6400 today. 

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