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How to Assess The Level of an Addiction

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 13 Aug 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Addiction; Assessment; Tools; Models;

Assessing the level of a persons addiction is a very difficult task but one that is useful in planning and implementing an appropriate path of treatment.

The word addiction is widely used in loose terms and in general conversation, for example ‘ooh, I’m really addicted to those lovely sweets you get in…’ where it is spoken in fun, yet how often do actual addicts make such statements?

Many sufferers may not admit, at least not openly, to their addiction as if one admits to having a problem, then there are issues that need addressing and behaviours must change.

A lot of sufferers hide their addiction and are ashamed to divulge to others their problems. Some use self-assessment as a measure of addiction, though this is a highly unreliable source. Frequent statements such as ‘because I don’t drink first thing in the morning, I don’t have a problem’ or with gamblers, ‘I can afford it so where’s the problem?’ These facts may be valid to the user, but if your vice is affecting other aspects of your life for instance your health, relationships with others, finances or social matters than chances are you have a problem with addiction.

How Addicts Are Assessed

Many treatment units have their own tools used for the assessment of patients or clients, that will be based on proven models of assessment and adapted to their particular specifications. They will usually include some degree of each of the following aspects: - behavioural patterns, psychological issues, biological influence and social concerns.

Considerations of issues to be assessed may include frequency, amount, duration, patterns, matters of control, impact on life and potential consequences; these can be applied to any addiction.

The assessor will use the results to discover whether the addiction is due to a physical dependence or whether the individual has a psychological addiction. It is important to discover this in order to establish the correct plan of care.

Physical addictions are usually found in those hooked on tobacco, alcohol and most substances in general, whereas psychological dependence is found in those suffering with addictions such as gambling, internet and sex.

Techniques Used

Assessment can be achieved by using any or all of the following methods:- question and answer (either written or verbal) using a mixture of closed and open ended questions, observations, testimonies from others and using a scoring system against set out criteria.

One of the most commonly used tool for assessing addicts (especially those with a habit for drugs and alcohol) is the European Addiction Severity Index. This instrument will provide a score for the person; a high score indicates a greater need for treatment. To find this score information such as history, frequency, consequences, medical issues, legal matters, employment, social factors, family and psychological profile is used, and results are interpreted and used to plan an effective and appropriate plan of care tailored to the individuals needs.

All units will have developed a tool that they use for assessing the level of a person’s addiction. The results of these assessments may tally with or vary greatly from the individual’s perception of their problem.

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Jd95 - Your Question:
Hi I was looking for a bit of help I’ve struggled since I’ve turned 18 with drugs now 23, every time I have a drink I go on a bender for days take loads of cocaine and it’s really effecting my life and need some help as to how I would get it sorted

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we cannot give direct help. You would have to go through your GP, please see the link here . The positive move is admitting that you need help. So many people wait before until the situation spirals out of control. Admitting you have a problem is the first step in trying to overcome it.
BeatingAddictions - 14-Aug-18 @ 2:10 PM
Hi I was looking for a bit of help I’ve struggled since I’ve turned 18 with drugs now 23, every time I have a drink I go on a bender for days take loads of cocaine and it’s really effecting my life and need some help as to how I would get it sorted
Jd95 - 13-Aug-18 @ 8:17 PM
Unknown - Your Question:
I finally got myself to a AA meeting, my first one. It was based on the ‘new comers’ which was only me. I sat and listened, some of it went in some of it didn’t. After it was over I left and told myself that it wasn’t for me and that I’m not going back. My reason being that I’m not an addict, that I’m only 19 and my ‘story’ isn’t as bad as there’s is or even once was so I must not be an addict. I Do know I have problems but who doesn’t. Any advice would be appreciated.

Our Response:
The question you have to ask yourself is why have you ended up at an AA meeting? Many people are in denial, especially if they can still function normally, still go to work every day, such as go to work or lead a 'normal' life. However, if you physically want alcohol, crave it, plan your life around it and it impinges on your day-to-day life and/or relationships, then you have a problem. Problems can start of as being seemingly minor (especially as you are still only quite young), but if you have a continued need for alcohol then if not dealt with then it can spiral out of control. A lot of alcoholics can talk themselves out of having a problem in order to be able to continue with their habit. However, at some point the habit will catch up with them. If you're are suffering from addiction to alcohol and want to overcome it, you need assistance. If you are suffering from an addiction to alcohol, but are trying to convince yourself that you can treat your addiction yourself, or it is not as bad as other people you may have witnessed, then you are in denial and need assistance.
BeatingAddictions - 13-Aug-18 @ 2:11 PM
I finally got myself to a AA meeting, my first one. It was based on the ‘new comers’ which was only me... I sat and listened, some of it went in some of it didn’t. After it was over I left and told myself that it wasn’t for me and that I’m not going back. My reason being that I’m not an addict, that I’m only 19 and my ‘story’ isn’t as bad as there’s is or even once was so I must not be an addict... I Do know I have problems but who doesn’t. Any advice would be appreciated.
Unknown - 11-Aug-18 @ 5:56 AM
Visitor - Your Question:
Hello Everyone,I hope this message is discrete.I am desperetly looking for help.Started taking Meth daily 6 month ago, gbl, benzos.I am trying to stop last 3 months, specialist saw me once, tried with antidepressant.I want to stop, I want my life back but depression, confusing and panic attacs are too painful. Having strong pain in left leg, cramps in fingers and face over chest.I was looking everywhere for help but I dont have money for private clinic.I am scared to talk to GPs everything is going medical record, I was already judged by doctors for that.I can not beat withdrawls at home. When was sober a few days ago crashed. Partner found me. could not remember anything. Never had any health problems before this.

Our Response:
Doctors will never judge you for your actions. The only way to get help officially is to seek medical advice as you can then be referred to counselling etc. You can speak to someone via the link here or here , if you wish to speak to someone unofficially.
BeatingAddictions - 31-Jul-18 @ 1:42 PM
A87 - Your Question:
Im a 31 year old male an have always used cocaine when out with friends an was always able to take it or leave it but for the past 3 years ive gradually let it take over my life an I think it would be fair to say im addicted. I use it most days an to be honest doesnt really effect me how it used to. My wife doesnt kbow to what extent I use as she thinks ive stopped. Im on the verge of losing everything including my 3 year old daughter yet still cant seem to stop. I honestly dont know what to do anymore my life is a mess.

Our Response:
Knowing you have a problem is the first hurdle of trying to solve your problem. The psychological dependency is what you will have to try kick. Therefore, getting help is of paramount importance, please see the link here which will help answer your question. There is no magic formula, the start of the process has to be the want, desire and need to kick your habit.
BeatingAddictions - 31-Jul-18 @ 11:42 AM
Hello Everyone, I hope this message is discrete. I am desperetly looking for help. Started taking Meth daily 6 month ago, gbl, benzos. I am trying to stop last 3 months, specialist saw me once, tried with antidepressant. I want to stop, I want my life back but depression, confusing and panic attacs are too painful. Having strong pain in left leg, cramps in fingers and face over chest. I was looking everywhere for help but I dont have money for private clinic. I am scared to talk to GPs everything is going medical record, I was already judged by doctors for that. I can not beat withdrawls at home. When was sober a few days ago crashed. Partner found me. could not remember anything. Never had any health problems before this.
Visitor - 30-Jul-18 @ 7:21 PM
Im a 31 year old male an have always used cocaine when out with friends an was always able to take it or leave it but for the past 3 years ive gradually let it take over my life an i think it would be fair to say im addicted. I use it most days an to be honest doesnt really effect me how it used to. My wife doesnt kbow to what extent i use as she thinks ive stopped. Im on the verge of losing everything including my 3 year old daughter yet still cant seem to stop. I honestly dont know what to do anymore my life is a mess.. .
A87 - 30-Jul-18 @ 3:31 PM
@Silverpineapple - cocaine is the second most popular illegal drug in the UK after cannabis. Many people use it for recreational use. Your son has to want to leave it alone and unfortunately only he can make that decision. The expense of it may begin to change his mind. While it isn't physically addictive it is mentally addictive. So keep a close eye on him. Staying up until the early hours and sleeping much of the day is a sign. Users also seem to consume a lot more alcohol than usual when taking it. It's a horrible drug. I hope you can persuade him away from it :(
FrankaM - 30-Jul-18 @ 10:35 AM
I’ve recently found out my 22 year old son has been taking cocaine, although this seem to be recreational as he holds down a good job has a girlfriend and socialises at weekends,?it seems to be when he is out at weekends it is normal for him and his friends to have a few lines. He becomes a completely different person, his whole demeanour changes. How do I break this habit?
Silver pineapple - 29-Jul-18 @ 7:35 AM
Bean125 - Your Question:
Myself and my sister are both in education, she lives with my mum going to college and I moved away to study at a uni. We’ve recently discovered that our mum had some kind of gambling addiction. She’s a single parent and money has always been an issue since my dad left but he also triggered other mental health issues in her when he lived with us through abuse. She sometimes asked for some of my loan to help if her pay day didn’t match with the rent and usually I get it back however this time the transactions my sister found showed my money being used for gambling £50 a time. My sister showed this to her along with search histories of frequent playing and other evidence and she denied the whole thing and shut off completely. This needs to stop but I have no idea how to get her to see that she needs to and to let someone help?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. As highlighted in the article, denial is an essential component of becoming addicted, so the response of your mother is not unusual. It means your mother has to admit it to herself first that she has a problem and then seek help. You may be able to support and advise, but it is the person with the problem that has to take the ultimate responsibility for themselves. You can see more via the NHS link here which can help you point you in the right direction and encourage her to seek help. I hope this helps and best of luck.
BeatingAddictions - 19-Mar-18 @ 2:19 PM
Myself and my sister are both in education, she lives with my mum going to college and I moved away to study at a uni. We’ve recently discovered that our mum had some kind of gambling addiction. She’s a single parent and money has always been an issue since my dad left but he also triggered other mental health issues in her when he lived with us through abuse. She sometimes asked for some of my loan to help if her pay day didn’t match with the rent and usually I get it back however this time the transactions my sister found showed my money being used for gambling £50 a time. My sister showed this to her along with search histories of frequent playing and other evidence and she denied the whole thing and shut off completely. This needs to stop but I have no idea how to get her to see that she needs to and to let someone help?
Bean125 - 17-Mar-18 @ 10:04 PM
@Bennett- I hope you are seeking help for it. Admitting you have a problem and seeking help to deal with it is the first step to recovery.
MandR - 27-Feb-18 @ 10:36 AM
I have a binge drinking & drugs problem
Bennett - 26-Feb-18 @ 3:38 PM
Mags501 - Your Question:
I have a serious addiction, I have had bi polar depression for some 24 years now, I have always managed to self medicate without any form of drugs, I came from a one parent family in the slums of Glasgow where I was in and out of the care system for a number of years, my mother was in what was known then as mental hospitals, I was adopted by a very wealth aunt and uncle in Leicestershire (rags to riches), due to this I have the ability throughout my life in helping others which I firmly beleive I was put on this planet to do, I am now but a former shadow of myself, I hide away I stay in bed for days on end I am disgusted at myself and what I have become, the many ppl I have helped in so many ways over the years yet know one seems to be able to help me, I feel as if Iv been put out to pasture, I hate physical pain so suicide is not an option but I really couldn't care if I died tomorrow !! When ever I go out I put this false image on a smile etc, I so hate what Iv become and am so embarrest , if you have any organizeations in Leicestershire I would be so greatfull if you could put me in contact with them, Yours sincerely a very desperate Magnus

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Many people who suffer from varying degrees of mental health issues learn to put on a false front (which is understandably very difficult, exhausting and unsustainable long term). Please see the Mind link here which may help you to locate some guidance and advice nearby. Talking to someone will help you more, as retreating into yourself is isolating and counter-productive. So please seek out someone to talk to. You never know when things may just suddenly turn around. If you feel you can help people, you need to first get the help yourself in order to allow you to put this into motion.
BeatingAddictions - 18-Sep-17 @ 2:22 PM
I have a serious addiction, i have had bi polar depression for some 24 years now, I have always managed to self medicate without any form of drugs, I came from a one parent family in the slums of Glasgow where I was in and out of the care system for a number of years, my mother was in what was known then as mental hospitals, I was adopted by a very wealth aunt and uncle in Leicestershire (rags to riches), due to this I have the ability throughout my life in helping others which I firmly beleive I was put on this planet to do, I am now but a former shadow of myself, I hide away I stay in bed for days on end I am disgusted at myself and what I have become, the many ppl I have helped in so many ways over the years yet know one seems to be able to help me, I feel as if Iv been put out to pasture, I hate physical pain so suicide is not an option but I really couldn't care if I died tomorrow !!When ever I go out I put this false image on a smile etc, I so hate what Iv become and am so embarrest , if you have any organizeations in Leicestershire I would be so greatfull if you could put me in contact with them, Yours sincerely a very desperate Magnus
Mags501 - 15-Sep-17 @ 9:09 PM
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