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Addiction Severity Index:


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 user profiles…”