The addiction severity index (ASI) is a brief, approximately one hour partly structured interview that is used to analyze the vital aspects of a person’s life that may lead to drug and alcohol abuse.
The ASI was originally invented by a group of researchers in 1980 at the University of Pennsylvania’s under the leadership of Thomas McLellan at the department of Centre for the Studies of Addiction who has come to be recognized for its invention (McLellan, Cacciola and Griffith). ASI is a key initial step in development of a client’s personal profile for current or subsequent use.
In carrying out the interview the interviewer should for a split second introduce himself or herself and clearly state the purpose of the interview, be it for clinical rationale or research rationale. If it’s for research the person conducting the interview should explain to the client possible gains she or he may achieve by taking part in the research. On the other hand if it is for clinical purpose, it should be explained at the initial step to the client so that it can form the basis of understanding for both the subject and the interviewer (Fureman).
Structure of the ASI
The structure encompasses seven areas that are used to gather information about the person being assessed. These areas include the following:
a) General information/demographic Section
This section helps the interviewer gather basic information about the interviewee of which most of them do not require clarification.
b) Medical Status
It is meant to gather the medical history of the client which includes chronic physical ailments, previous hospitalization and current medication.
c) Employment/support Status
This part is concerned with personal and basic information regarding the subject such as level of income, trends in income, nature of occupation, education level and so on.
d) Drugs/alcohol Use
This section entails acquiring information regarding the use and abuse of drugs by the client both currently and previously. It also outlines the consequences of drug abuse, treatment period, period of abstinence and financial burden associated with such treatment.
e) Legal status Section.
This entails any criminal involvements by the interviewee, legal charges, convictions and detainment, or whether there are any charges the interviewee is awaiting.
f) Family Social Status
It expounds on the intrinsic family relation problems that may be affecting the client either because he or she is in drugs or due to other reasons unrelated to drugs.
g) Psychiatric Status Section
It intends to acquire information regarding the client’s psychological and mental disorders.
Importance of ASI
The use of ASI is important because of it various advantages: for instance it is vital in diagnosis of alcohol related problems.
Furthermore, it provides critical insight regarding a patient mental aspect and sheds light on how long and how often the person has used drugs. It also facilitates the process of coming up with tailor made treatment that meets the specific needs of patients.
Finally, it helps in planning for logistical and procurement activities such as distribution of drugs. Because National policies require that all clinical information pertaining to every patient be recorded for purposes of present and future references, ASI provides reliable clinical information as required by such policies (Carey).
Carey, K. Reliability and validity of the addition severity index among outpatients with severe mental illness. Psychological Assessment. New York: T Head and Company, 1990.
Fureman, B. Addiction severity index: a guide to training and supervising ASI interviews based on the past ten years. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 1983.
McLellan, A., Cacciola, J. & Griffith, J. Addiction severity index: instruction manual. New YORK: Veterans Administration, 1983.