Alcohol Addiction: Identification and Assessment 101

Alcohol Addiction: Identification and Assessment 101

Alcohol Addiction Identification & Assessment

Alcohol addiction identification and assessment is more of a preliminary exercise that helps healthcare professionals and addicts to figure out the extent of alcohol addiction. Knowledge about the severity of addiction and ways to help an alcoholic not only helps the healthcare professionals in formulating a strong rehab plan, it also helps the patients come to terms with the exact nature of their condition.

General tips:                                                             

While identifying and assessing alcohol addiction, ensure that you factor in the risks associated at each step of the rehab plan. Events like relapse, unscheduled withdrawal, suicide attempts arising due to withdrawal, and neglect on the part of the support group are possible risks to the rehab program.

The staff working in rehab centers should be equipped to identify people who are dangerously addicted to alcohol. Initial identification and assessment should happen at the end of staff interaction with the patients. The staff should understand the severity of addiction and be able to suggest the right kind of intervention. The staff should also understand their own limitations and be able to refer the patients to the agency/services that can help them better.

Assessing the severity:

Knowing the severity of alcohol addiction and what to do when a patient seeks help are the first steps towards charting out a strong rehab plan. In general, rehab centers have different programs for different people based on the severity of their addiction to alcohol. The key is to target the right plan for the right addict. You do not want to over burden an addict with excessive rehab efforts, nor would you want to spend less effort on someone who is severely addicted to alcohol. You should look out for the following information while determining the severity of alcohol addiction:

  • Has the severity been identified correctly? Does the severity need to be adjusted?
  • SADQ and LDQ (statistical tests) to check for exact severity of dependence.
  • CIWA (Clinical Institute of Withdrawal Assessment) or similar assessment tests to estimate the severity and risks associated with withdrawal for a particular candidate.
  • Finally, do an APQ or related test in order to assess the exact nature of problems arising out of alcohol abuse for your patient.

All the tests/tools listed above are not exclusive and different countries/regions/centers may employ different tools to identify and assess the severity of alcohol. The list is indicative of the kind of tests that are available with healthcare professionals. Most of these tests are psychographical tests and their outcome varies greatly for every patient.

Identifying the unplanned:

Your final step in addiction identification and assessment should be preparing for the unplanned. Relapses, unplanned withdrawal, unforeseen withdrawal symptoms, and unidentified trigger points are some of the events you should factor in while preparing a rehab plan. Patients are human beings and you should expect that your patients may falter at various points. Ask yourself these questions while formulating a rehab program to lead your patient to a life of sobriety:

  • What if the patient relapses?
  • How soon can I help the patient back on track after a relapse?
  • Is the plan equipped to handle a sudden emotional outburst from the patient?
  • What if the patient gives up altogether?