What to Expect From the Intake Assessment & Treatment Process
Before a patient is admitted into a rehab program, they will first undergo an intake process. The rehab intake process typically occurs immediately upon the patient’s arrival at the treatment center, aiming to evaluate their unique treatment needs and set them up for successful recovery.
The intake process is a fundamental part of drug treatment programs. It allows the treatment center staff to collect and analyze key information about the patient and devise an approach tailored to their needs. Intake usually involves a series of questionnaires and interviews, as well as a number of medical, clinical, and psychiatric assessments.
The information collected via these assessment procedures is essential to the treatment planning process, as it enables the clinicians to develop short- and long-term goals that maximize the chances of lasting recovery.1
The Goals of the Intake Process
The primary goal of the intake process is to help determine those characteristics of the patient and their circumstances that might affect the choice of treatment and its success. By assessing the patient’s emotional, medical, and social needs, the clinician is able to develop treatment goals, address potential barriers to treatment compliance and engagement, and monitor the set goals over the course of the treatment.2
Overall, the intake process should make the first step to recovery as comfortable as it can be for the patient. It should also help the clinicians devise an individualized approach that successfully addresses the patient’s unique condition.
Conducting Intake Drug Assessments
Individuals struggling with substance abuse may find it difficult to take the first step in addiction recovery and talk about their drug use. This is why the intake process is designed to help relax the patient and motivate them to enter and engage in appropriate drug treatment programs.3 During the initial assessment, the treatment center staff may:
- Evaluate the individual’s readiness to change and willingness to participate in treatment.
- Establish rapport with the patient and encourage them to speak about their drug use.
- Introduce the patient to the assessment process.
- Ensure the patient that all the information they provide is confidential.
- Match the patient with the most appropriate treatment setting that will effectively support recovery.
- Shape the treatment plan to the patient’s unique needs and circumstances.
Areas of Assessment
The intake process for drug treatment programs is usually made up of several different steps. These steps may include the initial contact with the patient, a series of administrative processes, as well as a variety of comprehensive assessments of the patient’s emotional, social, and medical needs. The process may take several hours and is usually fairly involved for the patient.
Initial Contact and Interviews
An individual’s experience with drug treatment begins when they or one of their family members contacts or visits the facility. Upon the initial contact, the potential patient will most likely speak with an admission coordinator who will collect some basic information about the person and their substance abuse problem.
During the initial interviews, the patient may be asked about their drug use and medical history, as well as some detailed questions about their personal, professional, and social life. Additionally, they may be asked to complete questionnaires that help determine the patient’s needs and help the staff to create a customized treatment plan.
The purpose of these interviews and questionnaires is to become aware of the nature of the patient’s chemical dependency and thoroughly assess their condition to determine the most effective plan for action.
During the intake process, the treatment center staff will also perform comprehensive medical and physical examinations of the patient.4 This may include physical exams, toxicology tests, and assessment of potential drug withdrawal symptoms.
The purpose of medical evaluations is to examine the overall physical health of the patient, identify any co-occurring medical issues, and determine the need for detox medication.
In order to have a sound understanding of the patient’s treatment needs and goals, the staff will also perform a series of clinical assessments. This may include a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s:
- Substance abuse history.
- Medical status.
- Behavioral history.
- Legal problems.
- Family circumstances.
- Co-occurring disorders.
- Spiritual needs.
- Motivation for treatment and recovery.
The patient’s psychological state may also be evaluated. If deemed necessary, the patient will undergo a psychiatric evaluation. This type of assessment may include screening for existing mental health conditions, mental health and treatment history, symptomatology, and reviewing the patient’s reasons for seeking treatment. These evaluations will also help determine the right treatment plan for the patient.
Assessment and Treatment Planning
Once relevant information has been gathered through screening and assessment, it is time to put treatment into practice by creating a tailored treatment plan. In order to develop a custom plan for each patient in an inpatient addiction treatment setting, the staff will review the results of the conducted assessments and consult with the patient if needed.
One approach to treatment planning is to match the patient with the least intensive treatment option that is expected to be effective. This is known as the stepped care approach, in which the intensity of treatment is varied depending on the patient’s response to the chosen intervention.5 This approach helps optimize the use of available resources, reduces the need for unnecessarily invasive treatment, and increases the chances of successful long-term recovery.