There are numerous alcohol and drug abuse screening tools, such as SBIRT, (Alcohol
Use Disorders Identification Test) A.U.D.I.T., and CAGE AID. However there is another
assessment tool that is commonly used in the evaluation of substance abuse treatment
and this is the “Addiction Severity Index” (ASI), which has been haled as the conventional
assessment tool for alcohol and similar addictions (Leonhard et al, 2000).
The ASI is an interview that appraises history, frequency, and outcomes of alcohol
and drug use, as well as five additional domains that are commonly linked to drug
use: medical, legal, employment, social/family, and psychological functioning. The
higher the score on the ASI indicates a greater need for treatment in each of these
particular areas. The ASI scores can be used to profile patients’ problem areas and
then plan effective treatment.
In a recent study, Makela, K., (2004) researched the available literature to see
the reliability and validity with the ASI. The author included 37 studies which stated
empirical data via efficacy of the ASI in this review. The effects show that high
internal consistencies are reported for only three within the seven composite scores.
The author points to four studies where the remaining four composite scores showed
minimal internal consistencies. The substance abusing population is broad and varied
and a standardized assessment tool is not going to produce consistent results in
all studies. However, the author concludes that the ASI really should not be utilized
in research or clinical decision making. He feels that the ASI is too unbending in
its design and asking the same questions of alcoholics and intravenous drug users
is inappropriate. The author wants to see the ASI used like a “system of building
blocks” by which “different sets of questions can be put to clients with different