Assessing the Level of Addiction - Drug Addiction

This is important as a means of determining the extent of the problem. It is not an easy thing to assess but it helps when planning a course of treatment.

This is better if carried out by a treatment unit, such as a rehab clinic rather than the addict ‘self-assessing’. The problem with someone assessing themselves is that it is easy to deny the extent of the problem or to look for ways of excusing their behaviour.

For example, someone might say that they only have a few drinks in the evenings as a means of winding down after a stressful day. They may also quantify this by stating that they are able to afford it and that if it doesn’t bother anyone else then what’s the problem.

This can be a way of hiding their addiction, especially if they are embarrassed by it but it is important if they can accept that they have an addiction, that it is very common, is no respecter of persons and is treatable.

Many addicts become self-obsessed with their addiction and fail to see the effect it has on other people around them, for example their family and friends. They may also be blind to the effect their addiction is having on their health, mental wellbeing, career and home life.

So it can be very difficult to get an accurate picture of the type and level of the addiction. This is why it is preferable to ask a healthcare professional or someone trained in this process to do this as they are able to conduct this in an objective and sympathetic manner.

What would an assessment consist of?

Every clinic or a community drugs team will have their own way of doing this but whatever method they use this will be based upon standard rules of assessment. They will have adapted this to their own specifications but it will include the following:

  • Psychological issues
  • Physical issues
  • Social concerns
  • Patterns of behaviour

Related to these will be issues of level of control, how often, when, the triggers for taking a substance, your environment and the likely consequences.

What also needs to be considered is whether you have a psychological or physical addiction.

Substances such as nicotine, hard drugs, alcohol and caffeine can cause both a physical and psychological dependence.

The clinic or drugs team may ask you to complete a questionnaire or a question and answer series. They may use observation or testimonies from other people in connection with your case.

They will then use a scoring system to determine the level of your addiction: the higher the score the greater the need for treatment.

This will be considered with other factors such as your physical health, lifestyle, family background, employment, location and duration of your addiction.

This will help when putting together a treatment plan which is tailored to your needs.


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