Alcoholism Identification and Assessment
Assessment of alcoholism evaluates the problems associated with alcohol dependency, to determine the best treatment modality. Addiction, to alcohol or other drugs, causes problems in three areas of the addict/alcoholic's life:
- the physical,
- the psychological, and
- the spiritual.
Chemical dependency, or alcoholism, involves physiological impairment. It is chronic, debilitating, progressive, and irreversible. In other words, once an alcoholic or addict, always an alcoholic or addict.
If an abstinent alcoholic/addict returns to use, even after a number of years, the symptoms of compulsion, loss of control, and continued use in spite of adverse consequences will reemerge more quickly and be more damaging.
Detoxification and abstinence are critical components of recovery from addiction. And recovery is an on-going day-to-day process. Remember, alcoholism left untreated is a potentially fatal disease.
Addiction is also a disease of the mind, emotions, and will. The addict/alcoholic is in a state of emotional arrest and psychological dependency.
The addicted individual is incapable of hearing or acting on anything that comes from outside the self. This total self-dependency contributes to loss of control over use. Loss of control is often considered the hallmark of full-blown addiction.
It is impossible for the chemically dependent to sustain promises to "cut down." In recovery, the addict must learn to transfer self-dependence to something outside of self, preferably the recovering community. That community supports recovery by helping the addict/alcoholic break through the rationalization and denial that so define the illness.
The spiritual part of the individual must be fully engaged for recovery to commence, to continue, to prevail. Unless one commits spiritually to recovery—changes the belief system to accept a power higher than self—recovery cannot be sustained.
Alcoholism, chemical dependency, addiction: the term used is less important than the understanding that all three refer to a disease that can be identified and diagnosed.
The problems of alcohol and/or other drug dependency may be identified by anyone associated with the addicted—family, friends, professional caregivers. Diagnosis may come from a medical doctor, trained professional social worker, psychologist, or other medical professional.
Once the problem has been identified, the question becomes, what next? What has to happen to effect recovery for the alcoholic/addict, and for the family? When a diagnosis has been made, the professional (physician, social worker, psychologist) can initiate a series of actions to get the chemically dependent individual into treatment.
Assessment of alcoholism is necessary to determine the severity of the problems associated with the disease, as well as to recommend a course of treatment.
Assessment should include
- detoxification needs,
- review of medical history,
- medical evaluation, and
- psychological evaluation.
The professional conducting this assessment needs expertise in dealing with persons with disabilities. Otherwise, it is difficult to recommend the wisest course of treatment for the individual.
Too often, physicians, social workers, or rehab counselors don't have the training to recognize chemical dependency and/or its treatability as a primary disease. They may not realize the chronic, progressive, recidivistic nature of alcoholism and other drug dependency.
To provide optimum services to the disabled and their caregivers, the counselor or other medical professional must realize the nature of this illness, and its impact on quality of life. Once an assessment has been done and a diagnosis made, the trained health professional (physician, social worker, psychologist) can initiate a series of activities to get the alcoholic/addict into treatment