Volume 34, Issue 1 (January 1989)
Excluding a Psychoactive Substance Use Disorder in Forensic Psychiatric Evaluations
The forensic psychiatrist is sometimes asked to exclude that a person has a psychoactive substance use disorder, for example, in a security worker who has access to weapons, in a health care professional who may be alcohol/drug impaired, or in a parent, in a deprived child or custody hearing matter. After examining the data that are leading to the evaluation, these evaluations require corroborated background information to look for developmental and genetic antecedents that might be consistent with substance abuse and dependence; inquiry into the history of substance use; and an examination of areas, in which problems from substance use can occur, namely in family and other social relationships, at work, in legal settings, in physical health, and in personal and psychiatric reactions, for example, in suicidal behavior. Then a physical exam and laboratory evaluation are conducted to look for medical evidence of substance use and complications therefrom, and a mental status exam is performed and psychological testing is obtained as required, for example, a Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) or neuropsychological testing. When such an evaluation is essentially negative, the examiner can say, within the limits of the evaluation, that a psychoactive substance use disorder does not exist.