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Assessing Addiction: Commonly Used Addiction Assessment Tools

Posted on :  May 31st, 2016  |  By :  towardsrecovery

In the world of assessing addiction, it is not realistic for a treatment center to just label people as addicted or not. Before choosing a treatment option, patients need to be properly assessed to see exactly what trouble they have and what the best course to successful recovery will be.

One of the best tools for assessing any type of psychological disorder, including addiction is the DSM-5. There are five tools that the American Psychological Association uses along with the DSM-5 before making decisions about treatment.

One is the Cross-Cutting Symptom Measures that help therapists see where to begin assessing, because so many disorders have common symptoms.

Another helpful tool is the Severity Measures tool which looks at disorders at closer level. There is a World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule that therapists can use to see how effective a patient is at getting through daily activities and managing healthy behaviors.

The DSM-5 also includes the Personality Inventories that looks at personality traits that can show things like psychoticism, detachment, and disinhibition. Since many people with addictive disorders have more than one psychological issue, these assessment tools are helpful for therapists to meet all of their patients’ needs.

Another useful tool for therapists who are looking for a diagnosis of substance abuse, the SBIRT from the SAMHSA is accurate and helpful. SBIRT is the acronym used for the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment tool.  This screening tool is used by many healthcare professionals and it can be used in treatment centers, hospitals, and private practices or any other health care center that works with addiction treatment and recovery. The tool does require health care providers to talk to the patient prior to performing the assessment tool, so an intervention is required. When patients do show that they have a need for help, the health care provider does need to give a referral to that patient; this is the professional responsibility of the health care professional.

The DAST is another useful tool to screen whether or not a patient has an addiction to substances and requires treatment. The acronym DAST stands for Drug Abuse Screening Test. This is a quick little assessment tool that can be used for patients who do not believe they have a drug abuse problem. It comes in three options. There are 20-question and 10-question assessments and there is one designed for use with adolescents. The DAST does not screen for alcohol abuse. It has proven to be nearly 90% accurate in diagnosing substance abuse disorders.

Another useful tool is the DAI or Drug Attitude Inventory. This tool does not require the assessor to have any special training and it looks at the way the patient feels about medication. It might not be the best tool to see if patients are addicted to drugs, but it can assess their responses to prescription medications, especially those that are used to treat disorders. It can help healthcare professionals see if a pharmacological treatment will be the best options for patients. The assessment only takes about 10 minutes to complete.

One more useful tool is the DUSI-R. This looks at ten different areas of drug abuse. The tool is very effective and includes a reliability lie scale to determine the truthfulness of the patient. It looks at the severity of a drug abuse disorder that ranges from 0 to 100 percent. Healthcare professionals can then look at what needs to be done to effectively treat the disorder and to monitor the changes that are occurring during treatment. Patients can take the test on paper, in an interview, or on a computer. The tool does require that the patient know how to read at a fifth-grade level and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

If you have any questions or concerns about drug abuse or looking for methadone as a tool for recovery, please contact us at 905-527-2042 or email at

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  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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