Substance Use Disorder Testing – Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST)

Description and Purpose

The Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST) is a self-report survey tool that was designed in 1982 by Harvey Skinner. The questions are modifications from the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST). It is used to determine if a person might have problematic drug use during the past 12 months. The classes of drugs tested are not limited too but include cannabis, solvents, tranquilizers, cocaine, stimulants, hallucinogens, barbiturates, and narcotics. Alcohol and tobacco are not included in the test. The DAST is used for purposes of screening and includes 28 binary (yes or no) questions related to prescription, over-the-counter, and illegal drug use. The test takes a total of 5-10 minutes. Each question yields a value of one point. Therefore, a total of 28 points are possible. A low score is an indication that a person does not have a problem with drugs. A high score is an indication that a person does have a drug problem (Yudko, Lozhkina, & Fouts, 2007). There are two other versions of the test, DAST-20 and DAST 10.

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Risk Assessment of an Alcoholic (cont’d)

In general, males have a higher risk of suicide. Jay is a male, which increases the risk of suicide. This risk of suicide increases as a person gets older. Jay is 56 years old, which increases the risk the risk of suicide. Not being able to see his family, being unemployed, and going through a significant amount of his retirement has sent him into severe depression. Being depressed increases the risk of suicide. Based upon the information given, Jay has not attempted suicide in the past. Jay’s alcoholism is at its worst. He cannot stop drinking. Even though his life is falling apart, he could not keep his job, and his friends want nothing to do with him, he is not able to stop drinking. Having a substance abuse disorder increases the risk of suicide. Based upon the information provided, it is not obvious that Jay is experiencing rational thinking loss. Jay has lost all of his social and family supports due to his alcoholism. His friends and family want nothing to do with him as long as he is active in his addiction. Having a lack of social supports increases the risk of suicide. Based upon the information provided, Jay does not have an organized plan to commit suicide. Jay is separated and his wife has filed for divorce. He lives by himself. Being single increases the risk of suicide. Based upon the information provided, Jay is not experiencing any sickness.

According to Assessment in Counseling, the higher an individual scores on the SAD PERSONS Scale the higher the risk of suicide. An individual with a score of 0 to 4 has a low risk of suicide, 5 to 6 medium, and 7 to 10 high. Jay’s score is a 7 out of 10 and the risk of suicide is high.

Risk Assessment of an Alcoholic (cont’d)

Risk Assessment (cont’d)

According to the SAD PERSONS Scale, Jay requires a risk assessment. The SAD PERSONS Scale provides a basic acronym for ten factors to be mindful of when determining if a client requires a risk assessment (Hays, 2014). The ten factors include Sex, Age, Depression, Previous attempt, Ethanol abuse, Rational thinking loss, Social support loss, Organized plan, No spouse, and Sickness. According to the SAD PERSONS Scale, an individual will receive a point for a positive answer to each of the following factors: sex is male; under 19 years-old or over 45 years-old; depression is present; previous attempt at suicide; ethanol or other substance abuse; rational thinking loss; social supports minimal; organized plan; widowed, divorced, or single; sickness.

Risk Assessment of an Alcoholic (cont’d)

Risk Assessment

The following questions would be a compliment to the information provided in the section above:

  • Do you think that you would be better off dead or do you wish you were dead?
  • Do you have thoughts of injuring yourself or others?
  • How often do you think about suicide?
  • Do you have a plan to carry out the suicide?
  • How would you commit suicide?
  • Do you have the weapons or items necessary to commit suicide?
    • What are the items or weapons?
  • Would you deliberately injure yourself without intending to die?
  • If you did commit suicide, would you hope to be rescued?
  • Have you ever attempted suicide in the past?
  • What do you think will happen to your wife and kids if you commit suicide?