Drug and Alcohol Evaluations; A Money Machine?

Drug and Alcohol Evaluations; A Money Machine?

Most of the United States require that people charged with driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence go to a chemical dependency professional to be evaluated for chemical dependency. States like Minnesota require that every first-time offender or low-level offender get a drug and alcohol or Rule 25 assessment.

The assessments and treatment recommendations have been seen as controversial in many instances since the majority of those assessed; are recommended to treatment. Can all of those people actually have a chemical dependency issue?

Problems With The Assessment

When a person is Court ordered to get an assessment; they either have to pay out of pocket or with their insurance. Assessments are generally in the range of $100-$300. The assessment also includes a urinalysis which costs an additional $100 or so.

A well-seasoned retread of the system may be able to lie their way through an assessment. But the chances are slim. There are so many questions that seem alike but with subtle variations that a seasoned counselor could spot a liar a mile away.

People with government funded insurance generally have to get assessed by a government funded program. While it may seem like these low-paid, government employees would have no reason to recommend unnecessary treatment; opponents of the system argue that they recommend everyone to treatment anyway (job security).

Another issue; is that “private evaluations” performed by people who do not accept insurance will charge upwards of $500 to $1000 for an assessment that costs $200 by state practitioners. It seems that people with private recommendations are less likely to be referred to inpatient or outpatient treatment and, at most, generally are recommended to weekly counseling (by the private office performing the assessment).

Effects of a Misdiagnosis of Chemically Dependant

What people often do not realize at a Court ordered assessment for chemical dependency, is that the Judge will blindly follow the recommendation. If outpatient treatment is recommended; the case will not be closed until other treatment is completed (this usually takes over a year).

While one may think; “what is the harm in getting treatment after a DWI?”, the harm lies in the fact that a person with thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees will not be able to work full time. Treatment is generally 3-5 times a week; mornings and afternoons.

The person is affected, the family is affected and society is affected by tax dollars funding welfare and insurance when people cannot work. The outpatient group is affected by having a person there that doesn’t even have a problem!

Nationwide, taxpayers are funding treatment for millions of low income, chemically dependent people.

Why Recommend Everyone to Treatment?

There is the old adage; better safe than sorry. A person sitting for an evaluation obviously had a problem due to drugs or alcohol the day they caught a charge. Alcoholics and addicts lie. Also, the person performing the evaluation usually works at a place that provides treatment (the job security argument).

If a person feels that they have been misdiagnosed; it is always best to get a second opinion.

Category Health