Substance use behaviours include the intake of alcohol or drugs, the latter of which may be prescription or non-prescription, legal or illicit. Substance use disorders develop when an individual’s use begins to interfere with important areas of personal functioning, including occupational, academic, familial, and/or social domains.
A psychological assessment for substance use can be helpful to determine the presence of a disorder, symptom severity, factors affecting prognosis, and recommendations for treatment and support. It is also useful for determining the likelihood of future relapse for those who have had previous struggles with substance use, which may in turn be used to support decision making regarding occupational or familial responsibilities.
During an assessment, a variety of areas related to substance use behaviours are explored, both through a clinical interview and a comprehensive battery of psychometric tests. These include:
- Psychosocial history
- Emotional and mental health functioning (current and historical)
- History of substance use
- Personal perception of substance use and perceived readiness for change
- Previous treatment
- Personality traits (including patterns of typical coping responses)
- Overall psychological and social factors that may contribute to substance use behaviours, as well as those that may facilitate treatment and relapse prevention.