Teen & Adolescent Substance Use Assessment

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We Specialize In Adolescent Treatment

Teens and adolescents in treatment have a unique set of needs (1). Their motivations for recovery, brain development, and social functioning are all potential areas that need to be addressed while taking part in the early recovery process. Because of this, it is important to have treatment assessments that provide this specialized information. This will ensure that their safety and treatment quality provides the tools needed for long term success. Proper care in treatment begins with a quality and comprehensive assessment. 

If a teen or adolescent you love is in need of behavioral healthcare services, contact Guardian Recovery. We are committed to the quality treatment and lifestyle change of every teen we serve. With multiple locations for teens across the country, you are sure to find a facility near you. Your teen’s journey to the life they have always wanted can begin today.

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Why Individualized & Comprehensive Assessments Are Beneficial

Behavioral healthcare recovery is a highly individualized process. In order for treatment to be as effective as possible, the treatment plan must be customized to fit the personal needs and requirements of each individual client. Conducting an in-depth assessment helps the clinical team determine which treatment services are going to be the most beneficial for each unique case while helping clients develop a thorough plan for continuing care.

The Adolescent Substance Use Assessment 

Clients sit down with a licensed therapist and a medical professional and go over personal history with substance abuse, the presence of any diagnosed or suspected mental illnesses and personal treatment goals. This is accomplished through a series of easy to answer questions. The assessment process is designed to gather as much quality information as possible while respecting the boundaries of each client.  A therapeutic plan of action is developed before the client begins medical detox or individual and group therapy sessions.

What to Expect During an Initial Assessment

The initial assessment is one of the first steps in the therapeutic process. A licensed therapist will ensure that each client is as comfortable as possible and begin by asking a series of predetermined questions. These questions are designed to gather the necessary information for accurately assessing the client’s needs. Some of the questions may require the participant to provide sensitive information, but it is important to answer each truthfully. This will help ensure that each client receives the best quality of treatment specific to their needs.

The Assessment Process

The assessment process will begin shortly after arriving at the treatment facility. Some preliminary information may have already been gathered in order to speed up the process. Clients will meet with a licensed therapist in a private setting. This will ensure that each participant’s privacy needs are met. The therapist will confirm details of the client and begin to ask questions related to various aspects of the client’s lifestyle, history, social functioning, and many other areas of relevance. Though it may seem lengthy, each question serves a purpose in ensuring each specific treatment need is met.

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Questions That May Be Asked

Assessment questions will vary depending on the responses given, but will typically include questions like:

  • What are the lifestyle issues you are seeking treatment for?
  • Are they substance use related?
  • How long have you been using your substance of choice?
  • Did you ever engage in polydrug abuse (using more than one chemical substance at any given time)?
  • Is there any history of substance abuse or dependence in your immediate family?
  • Is there any history of substance abuse in your extended family?
  • Is there any history of mental illness in your immediate or extended family?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness?
  • Are you currently taking any medications that were prescribed to you by a psychiatrist or a psychologist?
  • Are you currently suffering from chronic pain or any other physical ailment?
  • What do you hope to gain from your personal experience in addiction treatment?

Though this is not a comprehensive list of questions, it will provide examples of what to expect throughout the assessment process. 

Medical Testing

Upon admission, clients undergo in-depth medical testing geared towards identifying any underlying or pre-existing medical conditions. In some cases those needing behavioral health treatment will simultaneously suffer from chronic pain, a chronic illness or physical symptoms associated with post-acute withdrawal. Medical testing allows for more focused care and helps the clinical identify which methods of medical intervention will be the most effective.

Identifying Existing Pre-existing Conditions

An important part of the medical testing process is identifying pre-existing conditions. Maintaining or beginning treatment for a physical condition is necessary as part of the behavioral health treatment process. This is also important to ensure the safety of each client while they are involved in the treatment process. Physical wellbeing is a top priority as the mental and emotional areas receive treatment.

Drug Testing

Drug testing is another vital step in the assessment process. To ensure the safety and proper treatment of program participants, each program will need to learn what substances are currently present in the body. Many substances, when used frequently, may require a medically monitored detox. A drug test will help identify these substances as well as direct clinicians towards a treatment protocol addressing substance use. This testing is often conducted using a urine drug screen (2) and will reveal the specific substances currently present in the body.

Adolescent Psychological & Mental Health Evaluation

Behavioral healthcare is closely related to mental health (3). Part of the assessment process will be identifying any underlying psychological issues. This will consist of questions related to symptoms related to various common mental health issues. The presence of multiple issues is a common occurrence known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring. A licensed therapist will be able to develop an individualized treatment plan to address any of these co-occurring issues as they reveal themselves.

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Seeking Treatment & Guardian Recovery

At Guardian Recovery, we understand the unique challenges faced by adolescents struggling with behavioral health issues. Our compassionate team is dedicated to providing the care and support your child needs to embark on a transformative journey towards healing and a brighter future. Contact us now to speak with one of our admissions specialists, who will answer your questions, discuss our tailored treatment options, and guide you through every step of the admissions process. Together, we can pave the way to a healthier, happier life for your child.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7241222/
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/prescribing/CDC-DUIP-UrineDrugTesting_FactSheet-508.pdf
  3. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/substance-use-and-mental-health

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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