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.
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.
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