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Assessment is a critical tool for health professionals committed to providing appropriate care. Far more than simply determining if an applicant is an appropriate referral, assessment makes individualized care possible and can help gauge whether a client is responding to treatment.

Staff at Sunshine Coast Health Center is in a constant process of assessment and re-assessment as a client progresses through addiction treatment:

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If you are trying to determine whether you or a significant other has an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol there are a number of self-assessment tools available. Although only a licensed professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or addictionologist (a physician with specialized training in addictions) can make a conclusive diagnosis, self-assessment tools can provide some indication as to whether the line between drug abuse and dependence has been crossed.

Visit the Addiction Self-Test section for a selection of common addiction assessment instruments as well as a few developed by the staff of Sunshine Coast Health Center.

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When you call to get information, the admission staff at Sunshine Coast Health Center is busy fact-gathering to ensure that we are a good fit for your needs. Assessment at this stage is conversational in tone but important to ensuring that there is a strong probability that you will benefit from our program. Pre-admission assessment also helps to protect you and your peer group from others experiencing medical or psychiatric complications that have the potential to negatively impact the treatment experience of all clients.

Prior to admission, clients or their loved ones must complete an admission form which reviews a client’s medical, legal, treatment, psychological and substance use history. Our Nursing Supervisor and Clinical Supervisor will then review your application and advise Admission staff if they have any concerns and, if not, advise the next available admission date.

Although we recognize that some callers are not sure whether problems with drugs and alcohol have progressed to the stage of addiction, our team of addiction professionals consider information provided in the telephone interview or, if not available directly, from independent confirmation of a health professional.

Sunshine Coast Health Center understands that to formally diagnose chemical dependency a face-to-face interview utilizing a scientific screening instrument administered by a mental health professional would be ideal. One can understand, however,  that expediency makes it necessary given the urgency and narrow window of opportunity that presents when an individual with an addiction reaches out or agrees to get help.


Assessment during treatment is for a variety of purposes depending on the services offered:

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Medical Assessment

A medical assessment is an important component of addiction treatment which begins with a minimum of one night in our alcohol and drug detox. Typically, newly admitted clients undergo a urine drug screen which helps identify presenting mood-altering substances. Confirming the presence or absence of drugs will help predict what withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur and help nursing staff adhere to withdrawal protocols.

Within 24 hours, newly-admitted clients at Sunshine Coast Health Center are provided a medical assessment by our medical director. The medical assessment involves observation to determine if additional detoxification, a review of medication, and/or lab work* may be necessary. During examination, a determination is made as to whether clients are ready to be discharged from the detox and moved to residence.

(*) Note: lab work is primarily used to screen for medical complications.

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Addiction Assessment

Addiction assessments begin shortly after a client arrives at Sunshine Coast Health Center. Since new clients begin their stay at the medical unit, it is the admitting nurse that begins the process of addiction assessment. Information gathered by the admitting nurse includes treatment history, drugs consumed, quantity consumed and age of first use. Medical information gathered by the nurse is then passed on to the counsellor assigned to the client. Additional assessment initiated by the assigned counsellor and developed in collaboration with the rest of the clinical team eventually become part of a client’s treatment plan.

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Psychiatric Assessment

Mental health assessments help diagnose the existence and extent of mental health problems. During the initial stages of addiction treatment, a provisional psychiatric diagnosis, in consultation with the rest of the clinical team, is a critical part in developing a treatment plan. 

While psychotherapists at Sunshine Coast regularly assess clients as they progress through treatment, the legal diagnosis for mental illness is the responsibility of our psychiatrist. At Sunshine Coast, the psychiatric assessment* includes a client history, mental state exam, impressions and recommendations. At the request of the medical team or as a precaution based on the initial diagnosis, the psychiatrist may also provide ongoing client monitoring.

(*) Note: the psychiatric assessment at Sunshine Coast receive is based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV). DSM-IV is a manual that lists all currently recognized mental health disorders and is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

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Additional self-assessment instruments and information is available in the Addiction Self-Test section of this website.

If you need more information on how assessment services will impact treatment for you, your loved one, employee or client we invite you to schedule an appointment with our Program Director, who would be glad to clarify the role of assessment in the clinical program at Sunshine Coast Health Center. Please call us today toll-free at 1-866-487-9010.

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