Substance Use Screening Tools

Updated April 2016


Short screening instruments are useful in the primary care setting and have been shown to identify patients with substance use problems/addiction as effectively as longer screens. Links below are to specific screening instruments and to other resources.

Alcohol, Smoking, and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST)  (PDF)
Developed for the WHO to detect and manage substance use and related problems in primary care and general medical care settings.

Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)
Developed in 1982 by the WHO as a simple way to screen and identify people at risk of alcohol problems.

AUDIT-C is a 3-item alcohol screen that can help identify persons who are hazardous drinkers or have active alcohol use disorders (including alcohol abuse or dependence). The AUDIT-C is a modified version of the 10-question AUDIT instrument.

Widely used in a variety of setting and with many target populations.

CAGE-AID (Adapted to Include Drugs)
The CAGE is a 4-item questionnaire that takes less than 1 minute to administer and score. The target population is adults and adolescents in a primary care setting. CAGE-AID is adapted to include drug use, and is designed for the same target population.

Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence
A standard instrument for assessing the intensity of physical addiction to nicotine.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much
A Clinician’s Guide, 2005 Edition

NIAA Alcohol Alert: Screening for Alcohol Use and Alcohol Related Problems
Alcohol use screening tool that can be used in a wide variety of medical settings.

NIAAA: A Pocket Guide for Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention
Use to screen for heavy drinking and assess for alcohol use disorders.

SAMHSA: Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)
SBIRT is an approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment for people with or at risk of developing substance abuse disorders.

TWEAK Screening Tool
Five questions designed to screen pregnant women for harmful drinking habits

Two-Item Conjoint Screen (TICS)
A screen consisting of 2 questions on alcohol/drug use in the past year and feeling the need to cut down on use.