The first steps towards admission into a treatment program include a series of psychiatric evaluations. These assessments provide an opportunity for patients to disclose the information required in order to produce a personalized treatment plan. Patients may discuss their emotional states, relationships with loved ones, and family history of mental illness as well as any other information that may be pertinent to their plan for recovery. Psychiatrists may also assess the possible damage that long term substance abuse may have done to the brain, allowing them to judge the severity of the illness. Ultimately, psychiatric evaluations will touch upon a variety of topics.
From allergies to dental records to family illnesses, psychiatric evaluations attempt to find out any and every detail of a patient\’s medical history. Individuals will be asked if they are currently taking medications for a medical condition, what that medication is, and how long their prescription has been active.
Patients will also be asked about what substances they have abused in the past and what substances they currently abuse; honesty is extremely important because this information will be used to construct a personal treatment plan which may involve medications that could have harmful interactions with other unreported substances.
History of Substance Abuse
Patients will be asked about their personal history of substance abuse. It is important to accurately convey the frequency of alcohol or drug use and the method with which they are administered, because these factors play a role in tolerance development, and as such will play a role in determining the most effective method of treatment.
Other important factors include the amount that is required to prevent withdrawals and the age at which the patient began using the substance. Psychiatric evaluations will also serve to inquire about whether or not the patient has any previous rehabilitation experience, and the degree to which they believed it was helpful.
There is no holding back during psychiatric evaluations; the progression of the patient\’s life to this point will be discussed from all angles in order to provide the most personalized and optimal treatment possible. Psychiatrists will be interested in finding out about complications during physically or cognitively developmental periods, and any illnesses or disorders that may have caused the patient to psychologically mature in an abnormal way.
The patient\’s psychosocial behaviors will also be examined; satisfaction in personal relationships, ability to experience and enjoy intimacy, and sexual orientation, beliefs, and history will be discussed. This facet of the evaluation is important because it is possible that the substance abuse that led to addiction began as a method of self-medication after a traumatic incident–possibly of a sexual nature. Similarly, if the patient belongs to an ethnic group, discussions will involve the degree to which social roles and discrimination, as well as economic struggles, may have impacted the patient\’s mental health. Living as a minority comes with many struggles, and the patient may have turned to substance abuse in order to escape or ignore the hardships that he or she could not remedy alone.