How Do You Get a Court-Ordered Drug and Alcohol Evaluation?

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drug and alcohol evaluation

Northbound Treatment offers individuals court-ordered evaluations for substance abuse as well as evaluations for people wondering if they need addiction treatment.

An evaluation is a screening tool professionals can use to find out about someone’s history of substance use. The evaluation process can help an assessor identify several things, including:

  • The substance in question
  • The dosage (the amount the person has used) 
  • Frequency (how often the person is using said substance)

This way, they can understand the general scenario in which the substance abuser is at that point. Also, professionals can use the substance abuse evaluation as a guide for anyone who is responsible for finding a solution to the case, medically and legally.

Everything that an evaluation uncovers can be used to help a person overcome substance abuse through their addiction treatment plan. It is the safest procedure through which you can gather accurate information about what the person is experiencing. While that might be the end goal, there are many reasons why someone might get an evaluation.

Professionals may use evaluation processes for medical reasons. Other evaluations, however, could be court-ordered or might be completed for legal purposes. While there might be many reasons, the full process tends to be the same for evaluations. A substance abuse evaluation can also help a professional decide on a treatment recommendation for the substance abuser.

How Does An Evaluation Work?

The evaluation is most commonly made up of these two parts:

Screening: The first stage is designed to help an assessor find out if there actually is a problem, such as a disorder. Since that’s the focus of the screening, the outcome is either a positive or negative result, no diagnosis.

Assessment: After the screening has been done, the following step is a more in-depth look. This stage is where it can be determined what is the problem. In some cases, it is possible that the person might need to take a drug test.

However, some evaluation processes may also include:

Follow-up: This would only be required should there be a need for counseling or some kind of treatment. The way the follow-up would work would depend on the results of the substance assessment and what was recommended. It is a way of making sure the person is following the recommended/required procedure and that they’re improving.

Referral: The referral is the stage in which a program, treatment, or counselor is recommended to the diagnosed person. Each case is different and the referral is linked to the results of previous stages. 

More often than not, professionals who have licenses monitor and conduct these stages. Nonetheless, there are cases where individuals may use an online test to complete the screening. The assessors responsible for the evaluation tend to be professionals with human behavior expertise. Social workers, nurses, doctors, psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists are some of the professions of these assessors.

It is not rare for people to have to do a physical or a drug test at some point in the process. While the only basic requirements are the questionnaires, these other tests are a way of understanding someone’s condition. But the screening and the assessment each have their own questionnaire formats and requirements.


As previously mentioned, the screening is made to help figure out if there is a condition to be treated or if entrance into a treatment facility is necessary. In some cases, it can point out signs that the person is at risk of developing a disorder before it even happens. Screening does not involve diagnosis procedures per se. But, it can tell whether there is a need for diagnosing.

The types of questionnaires applied to the screening vary greatly. However, there are some styles that are used more often, which are:

State-Made Inventory: These would be made by the state law enforcement or department responsible itself. Whether they can be taken independently or need to be paired with another questionnaire depends on the state.

Alcohol Use Inventory (AUI): This questionnaire is for cases of alcohol abuse. It works to identify alcohol abuse habits the person partakes in. But in order to work, there has to be transparency and honesty. The questionnaire includes questions regarding lifestyle, which helps paint a picture of the person’s behavior toward drinking.

CAGE Questionnaire: This option only involves four questions on substance abuse. Still, while not too long, the questions allow for full answers in great detail. As it is with other questionnaires, the CAGE questionnaire only efficient if the person is open and honest. 

Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI): One of the most accurate questionnaire options, with a rate of 93% accuracy. However, it looks into more than the probability of substance abuse disorders risk. It can also show how open to change the person is, and if they are willing to admit there’s a problem. Additionally, it helps the assessor understand if substance use habits are only social and recreational or not, and how intense they are.

If the final conclusion is that the person does have a disorder, an assessment will follow the screening. 


The assessment stage of the process takes a more in-depth look into the person’s habits and behavior. Along with pointing out the signs that the person has a disorder that requires treatment, it also helps describe their symptoms. This way, the person administering the tests can find out what the disorder is, which disorder treatment program would be best, etc.

What’s great about the assessment is that it can help the assessor understand if there is only one disorder to be dealt with or more. It is not uncommon for people to suffer from dual diagnosis, where they experience two disorders at once. Usually, people that suffer from a substance use disorder also struggle with mental illness. In fact, about 60% of people in the U.S. that have an addiction disorder are also diagnosed with a co-occurring psychiatric one as well.

The point of the assessment is to try to reach a diagnostic conclusion. Therefore, there are multiple approaches that questionnaires might take. But there are two options that assessors prefer, which are:

Diagnostic Interview Schedule IV: This questionnaire uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a basis for its structure. It can show if the person meets a diagnostic criterion, and which. The description of the DIS-IV says it can help the assessor understand “course, onset, and recency of positive symptoms.” 

Addiction Severity Index: This option addresses and analyzes multiple problem areas of substance abuse. They are described as seven areas, which are: drug use, alcohol use, medical status, psychiatric status, employment and support, family/social status, and legal status. This way, the assessor can understand what led to the problem at hand, what are some triggers and factors affecting it, etc.

Court-Ordered Drug or Alcohol Evaluations

The drug assessment for court or an alcohol assessment for court can be ordered by a judge or be done preemptively. These are often ordered when there is substance abuse involved in the case such as reckless driving or driving under the influence. They can be part of a sentencing procedure as well if the state allows it to be. Any substance or drug evaluation can be completed in a certified state agency. The person who is on trial or has been convicted pays for the evaluation. It can cost anywhere from 100 to 150 dollars. 

There are many legal situations where evaluations might be required. An alcohol assessment for court can be demanded in cases of drunk driving, for example. Cases where an alcohol and drug assessment for court are more often ordered include:

  • Possession of drugs or alcohol (can be ordered for minors)
  • Disorderly conduct when intoxicated
  • Public intoxication
  • Drug production
  • Distribution
  • Trafficking (illicit and/or controlled substances) 
  • Use of fake IDs for consumption or purchase or substances

One of the documents that a person may need for an evaluation is a report of one’s driving history. (The DMV or the DDS can provide this). Another possibly necessary document is a copy of the assessment. This might be necessary if the person is attending or has attended a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (RRP). Other documents might include copies of any arrests, arrest reports, or general criminal history. Besides the documents that need to be present, there most likely will be an interview on the history of substance use. 

More About Court-Ordered Evaluations

Some people might think an evaluation can only make legal matters worse, but that is not the case. Doing an evaluation willingly might actually help someone’s legal case, showing they’re not resistant and are cooperative. A drug assessment for court or an alcohol assessment for court will help the judge go for a penalty that fits the crime and the diagnosis. Among the requirements, a judge might recommend classes, counseling, or even treatment, which can help both you and your case.

Once the drug and alcohol assessment for court is finished and can be analyzed, the judge will decide on the sentence. This will depend on their conclusions and the conclusions of the assessor combined. A judge can require different activities, such as the following:

  • 12-step/NA/AA meetings or other group sessions
  • Counseling sessions
  • Substance abuse education classes
  • Rehabilitation treatment (can be detox, inpatient, or outpatient programs)
  • Random urinalysis testing for substance use
  • Completing a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (RRP)

Get The Help You Need

Legal problems due to an addiction is a major red flag that a person needs help – and there is hope. Having to quit any substance abuse habit can be hard. However, not only is it possible but with the right help, it is more than likely that you can succeed. Legal trouble can lead to permanent consequences, but addiction doesn’t have to be permanent. And the sooner you get help, the less likely you will be of getting into more trouble.

The Northbound Treatment Center can provide all the help you will need to get rid of addiction. We go beyond the minimum requirements for medical and psychiatric help, with more in-depth services into many areas of psychology and therapy. We can help you get sober at your own pace, as we understand that each process is unique, and each person has their journey. From addiction assessments to mental health evaluations to our disorder treatment program, Northbound Treatment Center is here for you.

If this sounds like what you or a loved one needs, visit our website and contact us for more information. You can also call us at (866) 511-2458.

Our goal is not just to make you overcome addiction, but to make you feel truly changed, independent, and happier. Starting a treatment program is the beginning of what can be a lifetime of improvement and true recovery.

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