Assessmentrefers to a comprehensive evaluation aimed at conclusivelydetermining the presence or absence of a diagnosable drug abuseproblem. The result obtained from this evaluation is then used toprescribe the right type of treatment if the presence of the drugproblems is established. However, the best way to carry out thisassessment depends on the objective. Six instruments can be used toassess and diagnose substance abuse or addiction. However, for thepurpose of this paper, I will focus on two instruments namely,Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID) as well as Semi–Structured Assessment for Drug Dependence and Alcoholism (SSADDA).

StructuredInstruments serve a critical role in the treatment by enabling acomparison between the characteristics of the patient at hand withthose of the patients who have previously benefited from the samemechanisms on a standardized level. Besides, the medics are also ableto get a wide-ranging and objective understanding into other supportservices that the patient may need in order to recover maximally. Incontrast, unstructured clinical interviews are also helpful in anumber of ways, which include the satisfaction of third-partyrequirements for diagnosis and compensations (Sharon et al., 2007).

Incomparison, SCID was designed to be managed by a trained healthprofessional or clinician and mainly for making primary DSM-IV Axis Idiagnosis, while SSADDA, on the other hand, was for substance abusestudies as well as the related disorders. The SCID has been dividedinto distinct modules relating to the groups of diagnosis whileSSADDA is not. The SCID has to be administered by a clinician or aresearcher with extensive training as opposed to SSADDA. Thesimilarities between the two assessment methods are that they arereliable, have been computerized to allow for better results, and areboth used for substance abuse diagnosis.

Anadvantage or strength of the SCID is that it increases thereliability of the diagnostic through the standardization of theprocess of assessment. For example, SCID-CVneeds extensive time to administer in an everyday clinic and thusstandardization using computers enhances its reliability.Theweakness of using this assessment regards the fact that an individualwith less clinical experience will require extensive training. Forexample, when one is required to administer the SCID-I-RV evaluationduring research to a large number of people and he is not a clinicianor well trained, the reliability of the outcome will be low. WhileSSADDA was designed for genetic studies, the strength it has is thatit is broad and detailed and covers a range of disorders. Forexample, SSADDA can be used to assess alcoholism, cocaine, and drugdependence among others. However, the reliability of SSADDA isregarded as substantially low. For example, testing cocainedependence and alcoholism using SSADDA will yield different outcomes. The diagnosis of substance abuse such as alcohol using SSADDAcomputer version yields results with significantly low reliabilitysince the method is broad based.


Sharon,S., Rachel, W., Mark, H. &amp Deborah, S. H. (2007). Assessingaddiction: Concepts and instruments. AddictSci Clin Pract, 4(1): 19–31.