“What’s an assessment?”
After finding the nearest service and either giving them a call or popping in, you will be invited in for an assessment. An assessment is simply an interview with a drugs or alcohol worker to discuss your problem and how it affects your life. It’s informal, friendly and everything you discuss is completely confidential. That means anything you say is treated with the utmost confidence. Not even your G.P. has the right to know without your permission.

What about my family?
No. They can’t tell anyone without your explicit permission.

 I’m still nervous. Can you explain a bit more about confidentiality?
Obviously you will be discussing some sensitive matters, and your key-worker understands this. Everyone is nervous at first, it’s quite normal. It’s simple, what you say is confidential between you and the agency you are working with. It may not be shared without your permission.

There is basically only one exception.  All workers have a legal duty of care, and if they have reason to believe that yourself or someone else is at serious risk of harm, especially a child, they must act upon that information.  However, they will always tell you before doing so, and should invite you to take a part in the process. This is purely to ensure that no harm comes to you or anyone that you know; not to try and get you into trouble.

“So do I have to tell you everything?”
Say whatever you feel comfortable in sharing. The purpose of the assessment is to understand everything about your drink or drug problem, including how much you use, how you fund your habit, and the effect your substance use might be having on your life in general. It is intended to explore the other areas of your life you could use some support in, as well as dealing with your substance use problem.

“Really? What other things can you help me with?”
You might be having difficulties with paying your rent, hanging on to your job or dealing with violence for example. You may have got into trouble with the police or have developed other health problems.  You might not be ready to talk about everything and that’s ok. Just remember that whatever you say is confidential, and the more you say, the more help can be given.

“But my life is a complete mess! Where do I start?”
This isn’t a race, and everyone knows that addiction can be a destructive process. The drugs worker will try to address your most important issues first. This is the starting point for improving all the things affecting your life because of your drink and drug problems. This is the information needed to develop your Care Plan. From here, the work can begin on rebuilding your life. You and your keyworker will work on this together.

“Care plan? What’s that?”
A care plan is based on your assessment and is your road map for deciding your goals and objectives. A care plan is created by your key-worker, with your full participation, to out-line what you need and how you will get there. This takes into account all of your needs . . . .  in terms of your substance use, social issues, physical and/or psychological care; all of the things you discussed in your assessment.

Keep going  . . . 
The Care Plan is far more detailed than an assessment and is designed to give you the best possible care and help, addressing all the problems you face, step by step. As you work through these, your Care Plan will be updated to help you along your road to recovery. This is a ‘work in progress’  and as your needs and situation change with time, so will your care-plan.

“This sounds too heavy going!”
It’s really not as daunting as you think. The assessment should only last about 45 minutes. It’s informal, relaxed, reassuring, supportive and sensitive to your needs without it all feeling daunting. The relationship between you and your keyworker needs to be honest, trustworthy and confidential if you want to get the help you need.