Intake Questions – Alcohol and Drug Recovery Program

Experienced counselors know what questions to ask during an intake interview for an alcohol and drug recovery program – and they learned by filling out form after form. Here are the questions I’m asking when I interview applicants for our recovery program.

Words to live by: “Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.” – Ronald Reagan.

That’s not an acceptable answer! :-) When you’re asking these intake questions, always probe the client to be more specific. For example, a client said to me yesterday, “My anxiety is becoming an obstacle and it stops me from dealing with my problems.” Ask what “problems” he believes he needs to cope with, and how a recovery program might help.

Intake Questions – Alcohol and Drug Recovery Program

Before you start the intake interview, ask if the client has any questions about the alcohol and drug recovery program. Also, ask if he has any friends or family members currently in the program.

Addiction Questions

When was the last time you used/drank?

How long have you been clean?

Do you need to detox? (this recovery program requires clients to be clean for at least 72 hours before entering)

What is your drug of choice, and how long have you been using?

Have you sought alcohol and drug addiction counseling in the past? Tell me about it.

What are your biggest difficulties in achieving sobriety?

Why have you chosen this recovery program?

Recovery Questions

Why are you seeking recovery now?

Did a specific event prompt your application to this program? If so, what was it?

How do you feel about being in a Christian recovery program? (my practicum is in the alcohol and drug recovery program at a Christian outreach mission in Vancouver)

Have you been through a recovery program before? Did you complete it? If not, tell me what the difficulty was. What worked, what didn’t work?

Is there anything that could motivate you to drop out of the program? (eg, girlfriend, work, family issues)

What does “community living” mean to you? (this is a good intake question for a residential alcohol and drug recovery program, because roommates are often part of the deal)

Tell me about a time somebody made you angry or frustrated. How did you handle it?

Health Questions

Have you received an emotional or mental health diagnosis? (eg, bipolar, depression, anxiety, etc)

Do you have any physical health issues?

Are you under a doctor’s care?

When was the last time you had a physical examination?

Are you taking prescription medications, and for what?

General Questions

Do you have any legal issues to take care of?

Court dates, probation officers, lawyers, upcoming jail time?

In our recovery program, we require the guys to work a few hours a day in the kitchen and around the building.

Are you able to do chores, such as dishes and cleaning?

Can you stand on your feet for four to six hours?

Do you have stuff that you need to bring into the program with you? (many guys in our alcohol and drug recovery program are coming in off the street, and want to bring their possessions with them. This intake question doesn’t apply to all recovery programs or clients)

Red Flags

These aren’t intake questions for men applying to an alcohol and drug recovery program. These are warning signs of a possible inability to live in community or complete the program.

  • A sense of entitlement
  • Violent tendencies
  • Severe mental health issues or diagnoses
  • Problems with authority
  • Non-compliance
  • Upcoming jail time

The alcohol and drug addiction recovery program where I’m doing my counseling practicum also has a form for applicants to fill out. That covers the basic information (eg, name, age, current address, health care card #, email, etc).

If you have any thoughts or questions about these intake questions for a recovery program, please comment below.

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