Have you recently been ordered to get a drug assessment or a substance abuse evaluation? For many people living in Los Angeles, this is likely the case. This is nothing to fear, but having no idea how extensive a court-ordered assessment can be could leave you frazzled and scared of what is to come.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of getting a court-ordered assessment in Los Angeles so that you know what to expect so you or your loved one can be better prepared.
What is a Drug or Alcohol Evaluation?
A Court-ordered assessment for substance abuse is a legal tool in the Los Angeles Superior Court or any drug court. While it's not a one-size-fits-all remedy for drug addiction, some may benefit from talking to a counselor about their mental health or drug and alcohol habits.
A drug or alcohol assessment can help determine the extent of a person's substance use and make recommendations for a treatment program. In addition to assessing whether or not someone has a substance use disorder, these evaluations also identify contributing factors, such as mental health issues, medical conditions, and environmental factors. A comprehensive drug or alcohol evaluation involves an assessment by a mental health professional.
The assessment is typically performed by a licensed mental health professional in Los Angeles, such as a counselor or social worker. The evaluation may include tests to measure physical signs of impairment or substance use.
The drug or alcohol assessment interview involves asking questions about various aspects of the person's life and history with drugs or alcohol. This may include questions about:
Age when they started using drugs or alcohol
How often do they use prohibited substances?
How much they use these prohibited substances (quantity)
What substances do they take, including any prescription medications like opioids that could contribute to their addiction problem
Now, let's look closely at what happens during a drug or alcohol assessment.
What Happens in Drug or Alcohol Assessments?
The interview portion of the drug or alcohol assessment will go over different aspects of the person's life and their relationship with drugs or alcohol. The questions asked will help to determine if you could benefit from guidance in the right direction towards a healthy relationship with alcohol or drugs.
The counselor will also ask about any medical conditions, life stress, or mental health disorders that could be contributing to your drug or alcohol use. It's important to be honest during this portion of the assessment so that the interviewer can make accurate recommendations for treatment or guidance to improve your well-being, if needed.
After the interview is complete, the counselor or social worker will use the information gathered to make a recommendation about the level of care that is needed. This may range from no treatment at all to counseling services, therapy, attending support groups, intensive outpatient treatment or inpatient treatment.
Why are Drug or Alcohol Evaluations Required?
A drug or alcohol evaluation is a tool that can be used in the criminal justice system to determine whether an individual charged with a crime has an addiction or may be at risk for harming themselves or others due to misuse of a substance.
A judge may order a drug or alcohol assessment as part of the court's sentencing, probation, or other programs. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine whether education or any treatment is needed and in what form.
A court-ordered drug or alcohol assessment can be required for one of two main reasons:
The defendant is being considered for probation, parole, or other community supervision program, where there may be conditions that require them to go to a treatment center.
The defendant has been convicted of a crime, usually DUI or domestic violence, and has been sentenced to jail time, prison time, or probation.
Remember that a drug or alcohol assessment does not provide any kind of legal defense to criminal charges, and it should not be used to prove that someone is innocent of committing a crime. However, it can help determine what type of sentence might be appropriate if the defendant is found guilty. The lawyer representing you, in this case, can also use the results of this evaluation when negotiating with the prosecution about possible plea agreements.
Steps to Getting a Court-Ordered Assessment in Los Angeles
Your Lawyer Must Ask the Judge to Order an Assessment
The first step in getting a court-ordered assessment is for your lawyer to ask the judge to order the assessment. This is done in open court during your criminal proceedings. The judge may ask you questions to determine if it will be in your best interest. If you are facing jail time because of multiple DUI convictions, then there is a good chance that the judge will order an assessment.
You Must Complete the Assessment within 30 Days
After you receive notice from your probation officer that you must complete a chemical dependency evaluation, it is important that you do so as soon as possible. This is because failure to complete the evaluation within 30 days could result in your probation being revoked or even jail time being imposed on you by the court. You can go directly to the drug and alcohol testing facility in person or by mail. You will need to fill out some paperwork and pay any fees associated with the evaluation, which is about $300 and up, depending on the exact assessment.
You Will Be Given Results From Your Evaluation
When taking an alcohol or drug evaluation, it will take 5 days to get your results back, or same-day results with a rush fee. The results are sent out by email.
Seek Professional Help
You've decided to get an assessment to determine if you could have a drug or alcohol problem. What's next?
You may feel like you're at a loss for what to do next. It can be scary to think about taking the first step towards talking to someone about your situation.
But you don't have to go through this alone. Even if you don’t need a full treatment plan, there are plenty of resources available that can still give you guidance towards a healthier life, including individual and group counseling services. You can also reach out to family members, friends, or coworkers who might be able to help you find the right kind of treatment program for your needs.
Here are some ways that others have found helpful when they were trying to find help:
Talk with a friend or family member who understands what you're going through. Sharing your feelings and thoughts with someone who cares can help lift some of the weight off your shoulders and give you hope that things will get better soon. If no one comes to mind immediately, try contacting someone from a 12-step program in your community — they're often willing to listen and offer support when other people aren't available at the time (or just don't understand).
Reach out to a professional counselor. Counseling sessions provide an opportunity for you to talk about your addiction, the reasons you use drugs or alcohol, and how your actions affect others. A counselor can also help you develop goals and a plan for achieving them.
Create a healthy support system. It's important to surround yourself with family members, friends, and others who will encourage you on the road to recovery. Having positive people around you makes it easier for you to stay focused on getting better instead of slipping back into old habits like drinking or using drugs again when times get tough.
Take advantage of opportunities for relaxation. Stress is one of the many factors that can trigger substance abuse issues. If you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious, take time to relax. This can be as simple as taking a walk outside and breathing deeply or spending time with friends or family members who make you feel relaxed.
Drug and alcohol abuse is a very real problem in the United States. In fact, many of our nation's citizens may currently depend on mood-altering substances to take the edge off of their daily lives. By completing a court-ordered assessment, people may have an opportunity to improve their relationships, work on their mental health, and even learn healthy coping tools, if needed.