National Opioid & Substance Awareness Day |  September 21, 2021
Co-hosted by the Brigham B-CORE program and McLean Hospital

SCREENING FOR SUBSTANCE MISUSE

Screening for Substance Misuse/Disorder

The Alcohol, Smoking, and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) was developed by the ©World Health Organization (WHO) to assess risk for substance misuse. We have specifically adapted this tool so that it can be used to screen for substance misuse in both oneself and a loved one. It must be emphasized, however, that this screening tool is not intended to provide a diagnosis of substance use disorder, nor is it a substitute for a complete evaluation by a health care provider. In addition, this screening tool is for persons aged 18 and up. If you are an adolescent over the age of 12, please access the Addiction Screening at the Mental Health America website.

Screening for substance misuse aims to detect substance use problems. The following screening questions ask about one’s experience of using opioids, alcohol, stimulants, and other drugs across one’s lifetime, but most importantly in the past three months. These substances can be smoked, swallowed, snorted, inhaled, or injected.

Some of the substances listed may be prescribed by a doctor (like amphetamines, sedatives, pain medications). When completing the inventory, only record substance use for non-medical purposes or that involves taking prescribed medications at higher doses, more often, or for different reasons than prescribed. For example, if a medication is taken exactly as prescribed by a doctor, do not include them in answering these questions.

For most people, the screening can be completed in 5-10 minutes. At the conclusion, a risk score will be given. Further evaluation is recommended for those deemed to be at moderate or high risk. However, regardless of the level of risk on this screening, if you are concerned about substance use in yourself or a loved one, seeking an evaluation is recommended.