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Substance Use Assessments & Evaluations

Last updated on: Tuesday, 14 November 2023

When receiving an assessment or evaluation in Canada to determine a substance use disorder, you or your loved one should receive multiple treatment recommendations. We have put together a listing of organizations that can provide assessments for each province. Also, most of them have addiction services which can be helpful to have everything in one facility.


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In Canada, drug and alcohol addiction assessments are provided through provincial health authorities, private medical clinics, mental health services, and addiction counseling clinics. DRS provides a directory listing of some of these services for every province.

Finding quality addiction treatment in Canada begins with an addiction assessment. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine what help is best suited to your treatment and recovery goals. Our qualified professionals at DRS perform assessments when helping you find addiction treatment and recovery care in your province.

There are thousands of addiction assessment options, whether in-person, over the phone, or online. Assessments are helpful because they provide specific information based on what you provide to the clinical practitioner. No one form of treatment is ideal for every person, making the initial evaluation essential

What is a Drug Addiction Assessment or Evaluation?

An assessment is the first step in determining a person’s needs for treatment. The professional conducting the initial evaluation will collect information from the person in order to put together a clear picture of their substance use and addiction history. It can be done with the person struggling with the addiction or with a loved one on behalf of that individual. Here are some situations where an assessment could be beneficial:

  • A person is seeking pain medication for the first time or would like an increase in their existing prescription.
  • A patient is exhibiting signs of substance use, like dental issues, hallucinations, lack of motivation or energy, and changes in behavior.
  • A pregnant woman is showing signs of an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs.
  • A young person discusses frequent substance use or acting out in a way that could be a sign of addiction.

An assessment is not a place to make the person feel shameful, guilty, or remorseful. It is simply intended to catch the addiction as early as possible before it spirals out of control. An assessment is usually done before treatment but can also be done during treatment in order to modify the services, and after the program is completed, so aftercare support can be recommended.

Ask a Professional

  • Are assessments mandatory before I go to a drug rehab center?

    External assessments before drug rehab are not always needed, but it depends on the facility. Public drug rehab programs in each province often require patients to receive a referral or assessment before treatment. Generally, once you enter a drug rehab program, the facility performs its own assessment to determine your recovery pathway.

  • What happens if I disagree with the initial assessment and want a different method?

    Ultimately, it is your choice regarding what drug rehab program you want to attend, unless there are limited options. Assessments are not always perfect but purely a recommendation of treatment based upon the information you provide to the healthcare provider during your initial visit.

  • Can an assessment act as an intervention to help someone who does not recognize they have a problem?

    Yes, it could; for example, most health care professionals give their patients drug and alcohol use assessments to help them determine if their drinking and drug use are problematic. They use different types of questionnaires to accomplish this, and based on the answers, they can make recommendations.

  • Why is an assessment or evaluation necessary?

    Generally, it is needed to ensure treatment approaches are individualized and the patient receives the rehabilitation they need for their addiction and underlying issues. No one form of drug rehab is suitable for every person.

  • Are there ongoing assessments during rehabilitation?

    Yes, drug rehab centers of all sorts provide ongoing assessments to ensure their clients are on track with their sobriety. This aims to determine if any changes are needed with their treatment plan. Individualized approaches are necessary for successful rehabilitation.

  • Want to know more?

    The questions from DrugRehab.ca’s “Ask a Professional” are answered by Nickolaus Hayes. If you need further clarification on any of the questions above or have any other questions you can contact him directly at N.hayes@drugrehab.ca.

What is the Importance of an Assessment Before Substance Use Treatment?

There are many reasons why an assessment is essential before attending a treatment program for substance use and addiction. Let’s go over some of them:

  • An assessment leads to the individualization of treatment and helps plan out the program for every individual.
  • It allows for an appropriate client-treatment matching and gives the person an opportunity to find the level of care that is right for them.
  • It can help monitor the attainment of goals during treatment and in recovery.

As we can see, assessments are extremely important in the recovery journey. It is normally the first time that a person or a loved one fully realizes that there is a substance use problem and confirms that help is needed and guides them toward the appropriate program. It accomplishes a lot and can truly change someone’s life.

Terminology with Drug Addiction Screening and Assessments

Addiction assessments are a more in-depth evaluation of a person's issues with drug or alcohol addiction. The assessment identifies patterns around the individual's substance abuse and related behaviors.
Addiction screening is specific to drug or alcohol abuse using validated screening methods to determine if drug addiction is the problem.
Addiction evaluation is a clinical tool to determine what is going on with the person struggling with drug addiction. An evaluation includes questions to identify co-occurring disorders and physical health issues connected to addiction.




More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.