Substance misuse and dependence - what dependence is and how it develops - diagnostic information for clinicians
ASSIST (Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test)
The World Health Organization (WHO) Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) is a questionnaire that screens for all levels of problem or risky substance use in adults. The ASSIST consists of eight questions covering tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants (including ecstasy) inhalants, sedatives, hallucinogens, opioids and 'other drugs'. A risk score is provided for each substance, and scores are grouped into 'low risk', 'moderate risk' or 'high risk'. The risk score determines the level of intervention recommended (brief intervention or brief intervention plus referral to specialist treatment).
The ASSIST takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes to administer and can be completed electronically via the e-ASSIST or via a pen and paper version. The resulting scores are used to provide feedback about the persons substance use and associated risks as part of the linked Brief Intervention. The Brief Intervention is based on the principles of Motivational Interviewing and is guided by nine key steps.
All resources required to administer the ASSIST and Brief Intervention can be found on the University of Adelaide’s ASSIST Portal.
DASSA clinical forms
WHO - ASSIST V3.0
- Response card (PDF 8KB)
- Feedback Report card (PDF 27KB) (print as double-sided A3 and fold into booklet)
- Risks of injecting card (PDF 12KB)
Online training is available at the ASSIST Portal. The self-paced modules cover the basis of drugs and addiction, principles of screening and how to administer the ASSIST and deliver the linked Brief Intervention:
Face-to-face training can be arranged by contacting the team at the DASSA-WHO Collaborating Centre, University of Adelaide: firstname.lastname@example.org
The ASSIST Checkup
The ASSIST Checkup is a free downloadable app that enables the ASSIST to be completed on an android or IOS mobile device. On completion of the ASSIST, instant feedback and tips on how to cutback or stop substance use are provided including information on where to seek help. The ASSIST Checkup also has a built-in diary to monitor consumption. The results are confidential and Checkup can be done every three months to track progress.
Administering the ASSIST to young people (ASSIST-Y)
The ASSIST V3.1 has not been validated for use in people under 18 years of age.
Cut-off scores to denote the passage from low to moderate risk, and moderate to high risk, have been determined for an adult population. They are not appropriate for young people whose brains and bodies are still in the process of growth and development, and who have limited life experience compared with adults.
DASSA developed the ASSIST-Y under the guidance of the World Health Organization and using expert clinical consensus and the best evidence to date. There is an ASSIST-Y questionnaire and ASSIST Feedback Report card for 10 to 14 year olds, and another for 15 to 17 year olds. Clinical instructions for providing the appropriate intervention have also been developed.
- questionnaire for 10-14 year olds Oct 2011 (PDF 45KB)
- questionnaire for 15-17 year olds Oct 2011 (PDF 45KB)
- Feedback Report card for 10-14 year olds Oct 2011 (PDF 50KB)
- Feedback Report card for 15-17 year olds Oct 2011 (PDF 50KB)
- Instructions for Clinicians 10-14 year olds (PDF 65KB)
- Instructions for Clinicians 15-17 year olds (PDF 65KB)
Please email your feedback
- WHO ASSIST Working Group (2002) The Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST): development, reliability and feasibility. Addiction, 97:1183-1194. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2002.00185.x
- Newcombe D, Humeniuk RE & Ali RL (2005) Validation of the World Health Organization Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST): report of results from the Australian site Phase II Study. Drug and Alcohol Review, 24(3): 217-226
- Humeniuk, R (2006) Validation of the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) and Pilot Brief Intervention: A Technical Report of Phase II Findings of the WHO ASSIST Project prepared by Rachel Humeniuk & Robert Ali, on behalf of the WHO ASSIST Phase II Study Group.
- Dennington V., Humeniuk R., Newcombe D., Ali R. and Vial R. (2007) Results from the Australian arm of an International RCT of a Brief Intervention for illicit drug use linked to the scores on the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) (PDF 913KB) Drug and Alcohol Services Council Monograph No 23. Research Series.
- Humeniuk, R., Ali, R., Babor, T. F et. al (2008), Validation of the Alcohol, Smoking and substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST). Addiction, 103: 1039-1047. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2007.02114.x
- Humeniuk, R (2008) The Effectiveness of a Brief Intervention for Illicit Drugs Linked to the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) in Primary Health Care Settings: A Technical Report of Phase III Findings of the WHO ASSIST Randomized Controlled Trial [electronic resource] / prepared by Rachel Humeniuk, Victoria Dennington and Robert Ali, on behalf of the WHO ASSIST Phase III Study Group.
- Holmwood C, Marriot M & Humeniuk R (2008) Substance use patterns in newly admitted male and female South Australian prisoners using the WHO ASSIST (Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test). International Journal of Prison Health 4(4): 198-207
- Humeniuk RE & Holmwood CB (Nov 2011) Developing the eASSIST: The WHO Alcohol, Smoking and substance Involvement Screening Test Questionnaire in Electronic format for Australian Clinicians. Drug and Alcohol Review, Vol 30, Supp 1, Paper 60, page 41-42.
- Humeniuk RE, Holmwood CB & Kambala A (Nov 2011) Developing the WHO Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) for Young people (ASSIST-Y). Drug and Alcohol Review, Vol 30, Supp 1, Paper 59, page 42.
- ASSIST-Y poster presented at the 2011 Australian Professional Society for Alcohol and other Drugs (PDF 106KB).
- Humeniuk, R., Ali, R., Babor, T., Souza-Formigoni, M. L. O., de Lacerda, R. B., Ling, W., McRee, B., Newcombe, D., Pal, H., Poznyak, V., Simon, S. and Vendetti, J. (2012), A randomized controlled trial of a brief intervention for illicit drugs linked to the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) in clients recruited from primary health-care settings in four countries. Addiction. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03740.x