The assessment process for identifying addictive disorders is a critical component of the diagnostic and treatment process. Assessment helps clinicians to determine if a patient has an addiction, gauge the severity of the disorder, and establish an appropriate course of treatment. It is important to note that there are multiple components of assessment that must be considered when attempting to identify addictive behaviors (Castelnuovo & Semenicova, 2018).
The first step in assessing addictive disorders is obtaining a detailed clinical history from the patient. This includes information on past mental health diagnoses or treatments, current drug use or alcohol consumption, family history regarding any substance abuse issues, lifestyle factors (e.g., diet and exercise), legal issues related to substance use/abuse, social supports available to assist in recovery efforts, etc (Najavits et al., 2017). In addition to obtaining this clinical background information from patients themselves, it can also be obtained from family members or close friends who may have more insight into their behavior over time.
Another important component of assessing for possible addictive behaviors is physical exam and laboratory testing. Physical exams help clinicians assess for signs of intoxication or withdrawal symptoms associated with drug/alcohol use (Castelnuovo & Semenicova ,2018). Laboratory testing helps confirm any suspected substance abuse issues by providing objective evidence regarding extent and types of substances being used (Najavits et al., 2017). Tests such as urine toxicological analysis and breathalyzer tests can provide valuable data about what drugs are present in a person’s system at any given point in time (Castelnuovo & Semenicova ,2018).
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