Alcohol/Drug: Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST) - Adolescent Version

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This 20-item instrument may be given in either a self-report or in a structured interview format; a “yes” or “no” response is requested from each of 20 questions. It is constructed similarly to the earlier Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST), and the DAST items tend to parallel those of the MAST. The purpose of the DAST is 1) to provide a brief, simple, practical, but valid method for identifying individuals who are abusing psychoactive drugs; and 2) to yield a quantitative index score of the degree of problems related to drug use and misuse. It obtains no information on the various types of drugs used, or on the frequency or duration of the drug use. There is a question regarding multiple drug use, and some of the types of problems caused by drug use/abuse in the following life areas are surveyed: marital-family relationships, social relationships, employment, legal, and physical (medical symptoms and conditions). A brief examination of the individual item responses indicates the specific life problem areas. A factor analysis of the 20 items has indicated that the DAST is essentially a uni-dimensional scale. Accordingly, it is planned to yield only one total or summary score ranging from 0 to 20, which is computed by summing all items that are endorsed in the direction of increased drug problems. Only two items are keyed for a “No” response: “Can you get through the week without using drugs?” and “Are you always able to stop using drugs when you want to?” A DAST score of six or above is suggested for case finding purposes, since most of the clients in the normative sample score six or greater. It is also suggested that a score of 16 or greater be considered to indicate a very severe abuse or a dependency condition.

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.
Canada, M5S, 1A8.
Phone: (416) 978-8989.Fax: (416) 978-2087.

©1982 by the Addiction Research Foundation. Author: Harvey A. Skinner Ph.D.

Gavin, D.R., Ross, H.E., Skinner, H.A. Diagnostic Validity of the Drug Abuse Screening Test in the Assessment of DSM-III Drug Disorders. British Journal of The Addiction, 84, 301-307, 1989.

Addiction Research Foundation. Detailed Review of the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST). In: Addiction Research Foundation (1993). Directory of client outcome measures for addiction treatment programs. (Ontario. Addiction Research Foundation).

An internal consistency coefficient of .92 was obtained for a sample of 256 drug/alcohol abuse clients. Adequate concurrent or convergent validity was reported to have been demonstrated by the fact that the DAST attained 85 percent overall accuracy in classifying clients according to DSM-III diagnosis, and also to have been demonstrated by significant correlations of the DAST scores with frequency of various types of drugs used during the preceding 12 months. The statistical significance of the DAST scores to distinguish between DSM-III diagnosed abuse “cases” from “non-cases” is reported evidence of discriminant validity. The DAST scores were found to be only “moderately correlated” with scores for social desirability and denial.

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