Screening Tools in Diagnostics Comparison


It is worth noting that early diagnosis of the risks of developing substance or drug abuse allows timely prevention of their evolvement and serves as the basis for the implementation of targeted preventive programs. Screening tools are particularly helpful in assessing the threat of developing addictive behavior in people (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005). They are applied to predict biological, social, and personal risks, as well as to assess a person’s level of awareness of the topic of drug and substance addiction. The purpose of this paper is to review three screening tools the author considers useful and which will serve as an addition to the existing toolbox.

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“The Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test” is one of the most helpful tools since it allows evaluating different aspects of addiction, including the psychological one. The convenience of this test lies in the fact that it can be used by doctors in clinical practice and other specialists – psychologists and social workers, whose task is to identify risk groups and implement preventive measures or advise clients on a further course of action.

Also, this method is aimed at revealing the awareness and facts of drinking, which is especially important in clinical practice (Selzer, 1971). Along with questions regarding the clinical manifestations of addiction, this method includes questions aimed at studying the socio-psychological factors that determine the risks of alcohol abuse (Selzer, 1971). This screening instrument enables specialists to determine the frequency of abuse and various related factors.

“The Drug Use Questionnaire (DAST-20)” is another helpful addition to the toolbox while screening for substance abuse. It is quite a short questionnaire, which means that it will not take the client long to answer all the questions; nevertheless, the results will be quite revealing. The goal of the instrument application is to determine the patient’s involvement with drugs (alcohol drinks are excluded) during the past year (Skinner, 1982).

This drug abuse questionnaire is a structured interview and a variance of a biopsychosocial diagnosis. In particular, the tool allows differentiating psychological dependence with the use of psychoactive substances as well as physiological dependence (Skinner, 1982). Questions enable identifying the factors associated with drug use, such as personal history of abuse, psychological problems, distortions of perception.

“The Medical Cannabis Expectancy Questionnaire” is a very interesting tool, which can be used as a supplement to the main screening toolbox or any other test. It has been selected because it allows determining the psychological aspects of cannabis use (Morean & Butler, 2019). The respondent is expected to evaluate their feelings and emotions when they smoke marijuana or consume any eating edibles. The psychological conditions listed in the questionnaire range from positive ones to depressive moods and the feeling of guilt (Morean & Butler, 2019). Importantly, the tool allows predicting potential drug users since it asks those who have never tried smoking marijuana or consuming any other drugs to assume how they would feel if they did.

Concluding Points

Thus, it can be concluded that the tools discussed above make it possible to reveal the attitude, interest, and awareness of patients regarding drug and alcohol use. They were selected due to the fact that they facilitate the timely recognition of abuse and allow assessing not only potential risks but also current problems associated with personality traits. The chosen instruments are aimed at diagnosing the condition while also taking into account the stage of formation of the addictive potential that precedes the disorder itself.

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Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2005). Substance abuse treatment for persons with co-occurring disorders: A treatment improvement protocol. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Morean, M. E., & Butler, E. R. (2019). The medical cannabis expectancy questionnaire: Adult medical marijuana users’ expectancies associated with combustible, vaporized, and edible cannabis use for medical purposes. Cannabis, 2(1), 1-18.

Selzer, M. L. (1971). The Michigan alcoholism screening test: The quest for a new diagnostic instrument. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 127(12), 1653-1658.

Skinner, H. A. (1982). Drug use questionnaire (DAST-20). Web.

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