Important information to obtain in the assessment interview for substance abusers
- Current alcohol or other drug problems can be detected by asking two questions that are easily integrated into a clinical interview:
- 1.) in the past year, have you ever gotten drunk or used drugs more than you intended?
- 2.) Have you felt you wanted or needed to cut down on your drinking or drug use in the past year?
From these 2 questions, the nurse can then pinpoint specific drugs depending on the particular clinical situation. The nurse should ask questions in a straightforward, non judgmental fashion. Specific details include: names of drugs used, route, quantity, time of last use, and usual pattern of use.
Questions about alcohol or drug use should be asked as part of the assessment of any trauma. A urine toxicology screen or blood alcohol level measurement can be useful for assessment purposes.
Assessment strategies must include collection of data pertaining to both substance dependence and psychiatric impairment.
Once specific data are obtained, it is helpful to know if the person is abusing a substance or is actively dependent on the substance.