We are often asked if there are clinical or psychometric prerequisites to using the SASSI and which sessions of SASSI training are needed/required. The answer depends on the wide range of activities under the umbrella of “using the SASSI.”
To understand the SASSI, you need to understand how the subtle items were selected. Dr. Glenn A. Miller considered several thousand potential items. First, he excluded items that reflected either general maladjustment or, conversely, obvious social desirability. He gave questionnaires containing potential items to both individuals in treatment for substance use and to control subjects. Then he looked for items that the members of one group usually answered differently from the members of the other. Although no single question could identify every person who had a substance use disorder, statistical analyses detected a set of questions that people with substance use disorders consistently answer differently than other people.
The only reason any question was included was that it worked to identify substance use disorders, not that it seemed to be related to substance misuse.
Dr. Miller did not base the SASSI upon a theory of substance use disorders, but rather used statistical analyses to empirically select those items that distinguished between known criterion groups of individuals with and without the disorder. For the purposes of screening, we do not need to understand why people with substance use disorders are more likely than other people to answer True to “I have been tempted to leave home.” What matters is that responses to this question can help us identify people who are likely to need further evaluation for a substance use problem. Research has shown that people who answer the questions similarly to people with substance use disorders have a relatively high probability of having a substance use disorder.
To further deal with the resistance that so often characterizes substance use disorders, individuals with known substance use disorders were asked to answer the questionnaire as if they were applying for an important group membership and were directed to try to hide signs of their shortcomings and problems, particularly those related to the misuse of alcohol and drugs. Analyses of answers given under these “fake good” instructions identified two types of items — those items that distinguished people who had substance use disorders from people without such disorders even when people were instructed to conceal problems, as well as items that helped identify defensive responding.
Statistical analyses revealed that the SASSI could most accurately and usefully identify individuals with substance use disorders if the items were compiled into scales, and decision rules were created for analyzing the scores.
Items were tested with various groups and selected to minimize the effects of gender, age, socio-economic status, ethnicity, and drug of choice.
Lazowski, L. E., Kimmell, K.S., & Baker, S.L. (2016). The Adult Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory-4 (SASSI-4) User Guide & Manual. Springville, IN: The SASSI Institute.
We want to take this opportunity to inform you of a small questionnaire we are deploying in the coming weeks. We’d really appreciate your feedback and we’d like as many of you as possible to take the time to fill out this brief anonymous form. We feel that if we receive enough responses, it will provide us with critical information on how we might better serve your needs when treating your clients. We consider you our collaborators our ‘feet on the ground’ in this ongoing war against substance use disorder. We will provide links to the survey in various ways and consider you input invaluable.
Thank you for your consideration.
Here at The SASSI Institute we pride ourselves on the work we do to provide validated instruments that help you, as well as your clients. To do an even better job, we are asking for your feedback. We want to know how our instruments support your work. But we also want to hear how we can improve our tools. Our new Feedback Form gives you an outlet to share your ideas and critiques.
If you have a heartwarming experience you would like to share about how our instrument has helped you or a client, we would love to hear that too. Please feel free to share your story* with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Please exclude identifying client information from the submission
I have had the pleasure of being on staff at The SASSI Institute for 22 years. Throughout that time, I have had the opportunity to work closely with many addiction professionals. Their dedication and passion for helping individuals in recovery or in need of recovery have always astonished me.
One of these professionals whom I have known throughout my time at the Institute is Charlie Stookey, MA, LADC, LADC-S. Charlie was a trainer for the SASSI when I started my career at the Institute. He presented training on the earliest versions of the SASSI, having been taught by none other than our late Founder and SASSI creator, Dr. Glenn Miller. Charlie retired from training many years ago, and while we have never met in person, we have stayed in touch over the years, and I am glad to call him a friend. He attended Whitman College and the University of Nevada, Reno, and is currently a substance abuse counselor in Reno, Nevada. Charlie also has a passion for poetry and has been published in the West Coast Poetry Review, Blue Moon, and The Meadow. He believes in the gift of the Wounded Healer and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. I want to share one of his poems with all of you today and encourage you to take the time to read it peacefully.
Charlie asked me to share that he hopes the heroine in Phases of the Moon, finds the beginning of her sober journey in the reflection in the detox mirror. And that she finds the “life that awaits us.” In our groups, we are in a gathering of miracles and he is grateful for the opportunity to sit with them.Phases of the Moon The new moon is a cat’s claw in the night sky. Clint C. Ricketts
Beneath Thunder Moons and Corn Moons, she names her four rescued cats, Moon Beam, Moon Light, Moon Shadow, and, of course, Moon Shine. The phases of the moon
are tattooed on the nape of her neck “to honor the mystery and permanence of the moon over time. It’s reliable.” It’s so easy to turn the course of her disease into the curse of the disease
with its hungry ghosts. No glass Japanese floats lie atop the scarred nightstand; but earrings, ER receipts, doubts, matches, butt ends of relationships.
She regrets the drunken, meth-fueled fights with her husband, who later committed suicide. “Killed himself over…whatever. Me,
all that lottery money, heartache, whatever.” Moonlight creek sings to Cottonwoods in the darkness. Grief waxes and wanes.
When loneliness strikes, she writes lamentations: Full October moon Drowns pinpoint constellations. I miss your bright eyes.
The riptide from the fifth of a gallon a day floods the road of good intentions. Its ebb leaves tide pools of anxiety and depression ripening in a sour stomach.
Each morning’s hangover brings the pounding of relentless reality, the ever-present eternal goddam now. Last night’s shame haloes her head in hangover vises. She pukes. Starts the hands-and-knees
search party for dimes or quarters or pennies for a half-pint of mercy. She ignores the snores of an anonymous cowboy under a throw and the spray of clothes.
She wipes withdrawal’s sweat from her face, swipes at the brain fog. The riptide created by her moons leaves an empty curse. She flings the empty purse
of promises into the furthest corners of cobweb resolve, another tourist attraction. When the new moon slides between sun and earth, the eclipse covers her soul like a shawl.
She peers into the silvered glass of the detox bathroom mirror, where a stranger greets her. A shadow of comfort arises when she strokes her new moon, colored and frozen on her neck
We would like to take this opportunity to invite you, our many colleagues, to express your views, research findings and other developments within our SASSI Network blog. Our intent with this forum has always been to embrace the opinions and experiences of so many professionals and treatment providers throughout the country and indeed throughout the world. This forum is meant to be one of inclusion, not exclusion. All professionals from the multitude of addiction services provided have value and merit inclusion. These might focus on screening, testing, assessment, treatment, interventions, and others. We invite your submissions, and welcome your viewpoints. We feel this forum provides an opportunity to enrich us all with a collective wealth of knowledge that will ultimately enrich the addiction field. If you would like to contribute, please contact us at email@example.com.
We hope that all of you and your families have managed to stay healthy during this tumultuous year. Our hearts go out to those that have experienced loss, suffering or pain during this Pandemic that has taken far so many lives. We remain hopeful that now that several vaccines are in distribution, and vaccinations are proceeding expeditiously, that we are nearing the close of this chapter in all our lives.
Please consider joining us by contributing your knowledge to our blog!
Wishing you all a big virtual Happy Holidays from all of us at The SASSI Institute!
This has been an interesting year hasn’t it? I’ve worked in the behavioral health field, primarily substance use disorder, since 1989. During those 31 years I’ve never come across the types of challenges I’ve seen this year, for those struggling with substance addiction and for those healthcare providers trying to help them.
“Social isolation” is the new mantra in the culture and yet it is the very thing that is anathema to behavioral health counselors trying to help individuals coping with addiction. Resources are going out of business and events which once brought enjoyment, support, solidarity and an alternative to substances for having fun are being cancelled one after another. Fear is paramount, and it’s drastically shaping the face of addiction and recovery. We are seeing more initiation of substance abuse, more cycles of relapse and overdose, and more barriers to successful recovery in order to cope with a world in chaos. While outpatient treatment programs have successfully used technology to transition to online counseling groups, this has presented a barrier for those without the resources to purchase the technology needed to participate. For the last 10 years, I’ve worked for a local non-profit treatment center for women and adolescent girls here in Dallas, Texas called Nexus Recovery Center. Recently, the Executive Director, Heather Ormand, wrote the following in a blog post:
“COVID-19 has stripped so many sober women of our community. Twelve-step meetings are no longer being held in churches. Churches are closed or access is limited and people are afraid to sit shoulder to shoulder right now. For those with long-term sobriety and a strong support system, we can probably get by with Zoom twelve-step meetings, reading literature and connecting with other sober women via text or calls. But what about the woman struggling in her disease? The woman isolated in an unsafe home without the resources to leave and get treatment? The woman without a place for her children to go while she tries to piece together continuous days of sobriety and start rebuilding their lives?”
But there is hope. Treatment staff have proven that they are indeed essential, and programs like those at Nexus Recovery Center are showing that recovery staff are willing to risk getting sick themselves in order to help another human being break the cycle of addiction. They are showing that empathy and compassion and hope can still be conveyed through a mask or through a live, online group or individual counseling session. We can still find innovative ways to connect and share our experience, strength and hope with those who are struggling to find someone who cares.
I’ve also been associated with The SASSI Institute as a trainer for the past 25+ years and have found them to be an organization that strives hard to give agencies effective and easy to use resources for helping identify individuals struggling with a substance use disorder and guiding them to the most appropriate path for their recovery journey. I’m also proud to have been allowed to help people on The SASSI Institute’s Clinical Helpline for the past few years. One consistent thing I hear from callers is how much they appreciate the fact that they can reach out in frustration or puzzlement over a client they are working with, and how those on the Clinical Helpline are always there to help them work through a SASSI screening result, craft how to phrase the results to the client or in a report, and guide them in helping clients discover things about themselves, in order to initiate their recovery process. The SASSI Institute, though at a “social distance,” is there for me like a warm blanket on a cold night and for many other behavioral health workers in the US and in other countries who sometimes just need a willing ear to process some of their cases and SASSI results. Working together we can get through 2020 and beyond, despite any obstacles.
It is with a heavy heart that The SASSI Institute reports the passing of a dear friend and colleague, Mr. Stan DeKemper. Stan was not only a friend to the Recovery Field but also a personal and close friend of mine. Stan was the Executive Director of Indiana Credentialing Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (ICAADA). Our prayers and condolences go out to his family.
Rest in Peace, old friend!
If you would like to contribute to the Stanley DeKemper scholarship fund, please do so by going to: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/WebLink.aspx…
The SASSI Institute takes the health and safety of our employees very seriously. With the spread of COVID-19, the Company must remain vigilant in mitigating the outbreak. We are committed to helping people who suffer from substance use problems and the professionals who serve them. In order to be safe as we reopen operations, we have developed this COVID-19 Exposure, Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Plan. Of course, we will continue to monitor the related guidance that CDC and OSHA provide.