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Audio computer-assisted self-interview effective in detecting substance use disorders

Americans are besieged by alcohol and drug abuse problems. The need and benefits of primary screening and initial intervention during primary health care were felt due to an increasing number of people falling prey to growing substance abuse problem.

To meet the growing need for the same, a team of scientists developed the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) to identify substance use disorders (SUDs) and related problems in primary and general medical care settings.

Though the use of an Audio Computer-assisted Self Interview (ACASI) version of ASSIST was helpful in reducing the hurdles faced during examination and analysis of possible substance abuse in primary care settings, a need was felt to understand the extent of diagnostic correctness of the ACASI ASSIST in identifying potential substance abuse.

The study, titled “Accuracy of the Audio Computer Assisted Self Interview version of the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ACASI ASSIST) for identifying unhealthy substance use and substance use disorders in primary care patients,” was based on the premise that though short-duration screenings helped identify those with SUDs, there was a need for further examination of some among them.

For the study published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence in June 2016, the researchers analyzed 399 patients, aged between 18 and 65 years, of diverse origin to contrast the validity of the ACASI version of ASSIST with that of proven gold-standard tools used to pinpoint potential SUDs.

A detailed assessment of the methods employed revealed that ACASI ASSIST was 93.6 percent accurate and 85.3 percent specific for incessant tobacco use, 94.6 percent sensitive and 81.6 percent specific for cannabis use, and 86.1 percent responsive to and 84 percent specific for cocaine use disorder. Regarding history of alcohol abuse in men, the ACASI ASSIST proved to be 85.9 percent sensitive and 60.3 specific, while in the case of women the same was found to 100 percent sensitive and 62.4 percent specific.

While analyzing the range of existing SUDs, the range of sensitivity for ACASI ASSIST method extended from 79 percent for alcohol abuse in men to 100 percent for all tobacco users. The specificity range for all SUDs was observed to be a minimum of 83 percent.

Such methods can increase efficiency of screening

The researchers said, “With increasing use of handheld devices, tablets and smart phones in health care, and of web-based patient portals into the electronic health record, the use of electronic self-administered questionnaires could greatly increase the efficiency and accuracy of screening for these behaviors in health care settings.”

They said that self-treatment methods may help identify substance use behaviors for those patients who are less likely to disclose them to clinical staff during their face-to-face interaction.

Utilizing primary screening and timely intervention

Primary screening can help identify potential cases of substance use problem among people and timely intervention is useful in arresting its aggravated nature. The study pinpointed the validity of the ACASI ASSIST tool to measure the continued and unbridled use of substances in primary care settings. The efficiency of this tool in recognizing lifetime substance abuse problem can go a long way in spreading happiness and in making a drug-free society.

SUDs pose problems to not only the patient, but also the parents and surrounding society. Addiction is a problem that is difficult to get rid of and hence, it becomes imperative to seek professional advice. The first step to recovery is to realize and to admit that one has an addiction problem and needs help.

If you or your loved one is addicted and is looking for help, contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline for more information on drug addiction rehabilitation centers available in your vicinity. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online for further advice on drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers.

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