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5 Evidence-Based Screening Tools for Addiction Professionals


The research will continue to define the understanding of addiction. As public knowledge deepens, it should yield not only additional insight into substance abuse but should also give addiction professionals new tools to diagnose these disorders.

This article examines a number of behavioral assessment tools available to help addiction specialists identify substance abuse issues. Which ones are most in use by professionals today? How do these tools help in the treatment of addiction?

Honed Assessment Tools for Addiction Professionals

Finding the right assessment tool for your facility requires it to stretch across the continuum of caregivers, potentially including social workers, psychologists, substance counselors, or other clinical and non-clinical teams.

  1. Addictions Neuroclinical Assessment (ANA)
    The National Institutes of Health reported on a proposal to use an assessment tool that would measure behavior, brain imaging, and genetics. The Addictions Neuroclinical Assessment (ANA) seeks to go beyond the simple “yes/no” addiction assessment to leverage neuroscience to add a more dimensional framework to existing models. The ANA emphasizes the need to capture genetic insights and brain scans as a way to comprehensively measure the levels and origins of addiction.
  2. Tobacco, Alcohol, Prescription Medication, and Other Substance Use (TAPS)
    The Annals of Internal Medicine published an article last year that studied the success of the TAPS tool as a brief screening methodology suitable for most clinical workflows. The study tracked 2,000 adult patients in five primary care clinics, comparing the TAPS tool with the CIDI (Composite International Diagnostic Interview). The study found that TAPS was an effective measure of detection for alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, although refinement was recommended for broader substance use screening.
  3. National Institute on Drug Use Screening Tool (NIDA)
    In 2010, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a paper on a single-question screening process for addiction as part of a study in a primary care setting. The NIDA Quick Screen was developed from that study. The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests NIDA as a screening tool for adults to determine if they may be at risk for substance abuse.
  4. CRAFFT 2.0
    For adolescents, addiction professionals can utilize the CRAFFT 2.0 screening tool. Designed for children 12 to 18 years, it is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Substance Abuse. CRAFFT 2.0 has just six questions for screening for drug and alcohol use in teenagers. It was designed to flag patients for a more thorough discussion of at-risk behaviors.
  5. Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST-10)
    DAST-10 is a 10-question yes or no survey that has the option for self-screening or an interview conducted by an addiction professional. The screening takes just five minutes and was designed to yield quick data on drug abuse in adult patients.

Selecting the Right Tool 

The benefit of selecting the right clinical assessment tool for substance use, of course, is that it lays the foundation for a treatment plan. These tools allow addiction professionals to begin, at a minimum, an ongoing process of patient education, and at best, full treatment and recovery.  None of the tools available to addiction professionals provide the answers to addiction, but they contribute to clinicians’ recognition that there is a problem.

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