Alcohol Dependence Scale (ADS)

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Date added August 1, 2017
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Category Health Assessment, Substance Use, Surveys/Scales

ADS is a 25-item pencil and paper questionnaire, or computer self-administered or interview. ADS provides a quantitative measure of the severity of alcohol dependence symptoms. The 25 items cover alcohol withdrawal symptoms, impaired control over drinking, awareness of a compulsion to drink, increased tolerance to alcohol, and salience of drink-seeking behavior.

The ADS provides a quantitative measure of the severity of alcohol dependence consistent with the concept of the alcohol dependence syndrome. The ADS is widely used as a research and clinical tool, and studies have found the instrument to be reliable and valid. The printed instructions for the ADS refer to the past 12-month period. However, instructions can be altered for use as a outcome measure at selected intervals (e.g., 6, 12, or 24 months) following treatment. Use of the ADS has been reported mostly for clinical adult samples; however, studies have used the instrument in general population and correctional settings. ADS scores have proven to be highly diagnostic with respect to a DSM diagnosis of alcohol dependence, and has been found to have excellent predictive value with respect to a DSM diagnosis. The ADS yields a measure of the severity of dependence that is important for treatment planning, especially with respect to the intensity of treatment. The ADS can be used in wide variety of settings for screening and assessment of alcohol dependence. Several studies have used the ADS with adolescents. The ADS can be used for screening and case finding in a variety of settings including health care, corrections, general population surveys, workplace, and education. A score of 9 or more is highly predictive of DSM diagnosis of alcohol dependence. Guidelines are given for using the ADS with respect to treatment planning, particularly with respect to the level of intervention (e.g., American Society of Addiction Medicine Placement Criteria). The ADS can be used for basic research studies where a quantitative index is required regarding the severity of alcohol dependence. For clinical research, the ADS is a useful screening and case-finding tool. It is also of value with respect to matching clients with the appropriate intensity of treatment and for treatment outcome evaluations.

Scoring: Dichotomous items are scored 0, 1; three-choice items are scored 0, 1, 2; and four-choice items are
scored 0, 1, 2, 3. In each case, the higher the value the greater the dependence. Total scores can range from 0
to 47.

Harvey A. Skinner, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Public Health Sciences
Faculty of Medicine.
University of Toronto.
12 Queen’s Park Cres.
West, Toronto.
Ontario. Canada, M5S, 1A8.
Phone: (416) 978-8989.Fax: (416) 978-2087.

© 1984, J.L.. Horn, HA Skinner, K Wanberg, and F.M. Foster and the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Research Foundation, Toronto. Reproduced with the permission of Harvey Skinner, Ph.D. ADS cannot be copied. ADS User’s Guide:$14.25 Package of 25 ADS Questionnaires $ 6.25 each. Specimen set of 25 questionnaires and 1 User’s Guide: :$15.00

The ADS has high internal consistency, reporting alpha coefficients of .90 and .91 for two samples who completed the revised ADS. A estimated test-retest reliability of .92 after one week of therapy supported the temporal stability of the scale. Other studies reported internal consistency coefficients of .92, .85, and .94.

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