Tag: SASSI-4

Upcoming Clinical Q&A and Live Online SASSI Training | Register Now!

We wanted to remind you about our free one-hour online SASSI Q&A sessions hosted by our Clinical Director, Kristin Kimmell, LCSW, LCAC.

We love hearing about how you are using the SASSI and answering your questions about our screening tools. We currently have three more FREE Q&As scheduled from Noon-1pm ET on: February 13th, March 12th, & April 16th. You can save your spot by clicking here. We welcome you to share profiles to discuss with the group, please send them (de-identified) via email any time prior to the session to scarlett@sassi.com. These profiles help others learn about the SASSI and offer insight into the various profile configurations. If you are a SASSI Online (www.sassionline.com) user, we have a LIVE certified SASSI training webinar for Session 1: Administration & Scoring of the web-based version of the SASSI scheduled for February 6th and Session 2: Clinical Interpretation on February 20th. Each session is 9am-1:30pm ET and costs only $60 USD per session. You can register by clicking here.

Note that the Q&A sessions do not provide CEUs and are not a substitute for SASSI Training. SASSI training provides 3.5 NAADAC CEUs per session or you can choose 3.5 TCBAP (for Texas professionals) or CACCF (for Canada professionals) CEUs.

Adult SASSI-4 Review: Does the SASSI evaluate for Video Gaming?

This is an interesting profile on a 23-year-old male as it brought up the question, we get on the helpline regarding video gaming. “Does the SASSI evaluate for video gaming addiction?”, especially if the administrator believes the client was possibly including video gaming as well as substance use in his answers. The simple answer is no, it does not, so please clarify with your client not to include video gaming.  A drug that is often associated with video gaming is Adderall so the follow-up question to a client who admits to excessive video gaming is to question what drugs are they using to maintain that level of energy and concentration.

This individual was instructed to complete the FVA/FVOD side of the questionnaire for the last 12 months.

RAP was 0.

High Probability of a Substance Use Disorder.

Prescription Drug Scale result was 3 so meets the cutoff for High Probability of Prescription Drug Abuse.

He met Rule 1 with a FVOD score of 21.

             Rule 2 with a SYM score of 7.

             Rule 4 with a SYM score of 5 (7) or more and a SAT score of 4 (7) or more.

Looking at the graph on the Profile sheet, you will see a significant elevation on the FVOD scale score – above the 98th% so he is openly acknowledging use of drugs. By analyzing his responses, you will gain insight into what circumstances he is using, including dealing with emotional or stressful issues. And remember, he is answering the FVOD questions based on the last 12 months.

The SYM elevation is above the 85th percentile – enough to meet Rule 2. Because SYM is a face valid scale, you can do content analysis on those questions to look at the symptoms and consequences of his substance use.

The OAT score is within the norm. It would probably be the case that he does not identify with other substance abusers. This may be related to his very low-DEF score.

The SAT score is within the norm but high. The administrator may pick up some denial or lack of insight on the part of the client. And again, it may be related to the DEF score.

The DEF score is very significant because it is so low, below the 15th percentile. This individual may be in emotional distress and may be suffering from depressive symptoms. He should be evaluated for depression as he may be using substances to self-medicate. He may also believe that if he wasn’t depressed, he would not be abusing substances thus the OAT and SAT scores may reflect this perception.

The Rx score is also very significant and warrants further investigation as to what prescription drugs he may be abusing and if, in fact, are related to video gaming.

The rest of the scores are within the norm, so not clinically significant.

In summary, these clinical results are hypotheses to explore with the client to determine the depth and scope of the client’s use in order to recommend a treatment plan which fits his particular needs.

We hope this is helpful to you.

The clinical helpline line is open for your inquiries, M-F, 12- 5 (EST) at 888-297-2774 and you will be directed to a clinical consultant. If we are not available, please leave a message and we will return your call.

And as always, Thank you for your interest in the SASSI.

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Explaining Results to a Client with a High Probability Result When Scale Scores are Within the Norm

Perplexed callers periodically raise the question of how to interpret the results to their clients when all the scores fall within the norm and are only one standard deviation above or below the T-score of 50. Clinical interpretation is minimal although you can glean some useful information than just reporting a high probability.

The following profile result is of a 48-year-old female. She completed the FVA/FVOD side of the questionnaire for the last 12 months. Her RAP score was 0. Her Prescription Drug Scale score was 4 which indicates a High Probability of Prescription Drug Abuse.

As you can see, her FVA of 2 indicates below average use of alcohol, her FVOD score of 8 indicates above average use of drugs though within the norm. Her SYM score of 4 is also within the norm and although above average, she is not endorsing a lot of negative symptoms or consequences of her usage. Content analysis is useful with the Face Valid scales because they will give the context or conditions of how the client is using substances. The OAT score of 4 is within the norm so one hypothesis to explore, given the High Probability of a Substance Use disorder result, is if this client identifies with other addicted folks and those issues we often see in that population i.e. self-pity, resentment, low frustration tolerance, impatience etc. I would suspect not.

The SAT score of 3 is well below average although within the norm, this client may be concerned with what you think about her.  The DEF scale score of 7 is above average but also within the norm so you may be picking up a bit of a defensive posture with this client.

The last 3 scales, SAM, FAM and COR have no clinical impact.

Moving onto the Rules, two rules are met: Rule 9 and Rule 10.

Rule 9

  • FVA 6 or more or FVOD is 4 or more
  • SAT is 3 or more
  • DEF is 7 or more
  • All three, a,b, c ?  YES

Rule 10

  • FVA is 14 or more or FVOD is 8 or more
  • SAT is 1 or more
  • DEF is 4 or more
  • SAM is 4 or more
  • All four, a,b,c, d ? YES

The Rules are research based. Single scores within one standard deviation above or below the normative scores for each scale are not likely to indicate strong evidence of a diagnosable substance use disorder or a clinical problem. However, validation research indicated that some combinations of scores within this normative range such as in Rules 9 and 10 were evidenced by people who were diagnosed with a substance use disorder, and yet this same pattern of scores was not evidenced by those without substance use disorders. The scoring rules identify patterns of scores that accurately and reliably identify individuals with substance use disorders- even when the individual scores in the rule are not indicative of SUD on their own. Also, Table 10 in Chapter 7 in the SASSI-4 User Guide & Manual shows that both Rules 9 and 10 have a 96% accuracy rate indicating that the rules rarely identify people who do NOT have an SUD as positive on these rules.

You can see for Rules 1-4, the cutoff scores are outside the standard deviation which allows for both meeting the rule criteria and allows for easier clinical interpretation as well.

It is also important to note that the cutoff scores for each scale in any rule are specific to the rule. Being close doesn’t count.

Giving feedback to this client, the administrator needs to be aware of the bit of defensiveness and sensitivity of the client and perhaps the reluctance to identify as an addict. Using the information, she did endorse in the FVA, FVOD and SYM scales along with the Prescription Drug Scale results. It may help her to connect the dots and thus become open to whatever treatment considerations are discussed.

As always, if you have any questions about your SASSI results, please contact us through the free Clinical Helpline. We are available M-F, 12 – 5 EST at 888-297-2774 or 800-726-0526.

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Upcoming Clinical Q&A | Register Now!

We wanted to let you know that we are still offering our free one-hour online Clinical Q&A sessions hosted by our Clinical Director, Kristin Kimmell, LCSW, LCAC.

We enjoy hearing how you are using the SASSI in your clinical practice and agencies as well as answering your questions. We currently have three more free Q&As coming up this year. You can reserve your spot and view available dates and times by clicking here. If you have profiles you would like to share with the group for discussion, please send them (de-identified) via email any time prior to the session to scarlett@sassi.com. Your contributions would be of great value.

Also, a reminder that we have a live certified SASSI training webinar on Administration & Scoring of the paper & pencil version of the SASSI on November 28th and Clinical Interpretation on December 5th. You can register by clicking here.

Note that the Q&A sessions do not provide CEUs and are not a substitute for SASSI Training. SASSI training provides 3.5 NAADAC CEs per session.

We hope to see you there!

A SASSI-4 Profile: When the Drug Use is Marijuana

It is no news that the use of marijuana is viewed by many, no matter what the demographic, as innocuous and far less than alcohol and certainly any other drugs. It has become increasingly difficult to convince users of the harm associated with marijuana use when the legal status ranges from fully illegal, to medicinal and/or decriminalized to fully legal. Users often describe marijuana as simply a plant so it is a natural and therefore a healthy alternative to alcohol and other drugs. This, along with the misconception that marijuana is not addictive, creates an inherent struggle for both the evaluator and evaluatee. As an aside, when writing this, I came across an article in the New York Times by Dana G. Smith (April 10, 2023), titled “How Do You Know If You Are Addicted to Weed?” The article itself gives good basic information but the most interesting part was the comments from readers which were all over the map.

Substance use evaluations for marijuana use become problematic when the client comes in with that strong point of view which may be reflected in the results of the SASSI and in the scales.

The question of diagnosis based on the DSM-5’s 11- symptom criteria and whether the client meets either mild, moderate or severe must be answered before any treatment considerations can be raised.

The following is a good example of what a profile looks like when the drug use in question is marijuana.

The client is a 19 year old female and the FVA/FVOD questions were answered for the last 12 months. The RAP and Prescription Drug Scale scores are 0.

CLINICAL INTERPRETATION

The client’s FVA is average but her FVOD of 13 is elevated above the 85th percentile so clinically significant. Her SYM score of 9 is above the 98th percentile so she is endorsing significant symptoms and consequences. It also indicates she is associating with either family or friends who are heavy users. This gives important information regarding her environment and the difficulty of a social system that supports recovery.

The OAT scale score of 5 is neither elevated nor extremely low. It would be plausible to say she does not identify with or see herself as a substance abuser. This is reinforced by both the SAT(6) and DEF(6) falling in the normative range. She is not in denial because she believes there is nothing wrong with smoking marijuana and so was non-defensive when completing the questionnaire. The only other clinically significant scale is COR with a score of 7, also above the 85th percentile. Whether or not she has legal problems, she has answered in a similar way to others with legal issues. Anyone looking at that result can evaluate impulsivity, anger management issues, low frustration tolerance, poor social skills or risk taking behaviors, all of which impacts choice-making abilities.

THE RULES

Out of the 10 rules evaluating for either a high or low probability of a substance use disorder, she meets 4 of them:

          Rule 2 (SYM=7+)

          Rule 5 (SYM=5 + and SAT=4+)

          Rule 6 (SYM=6+ and DEF OR SAM=7+)

          Rule 10 (FVA=14+ or FVOD =8+ and SAT=1+ and DEF= 4+ and SAM 4+)

To meet the criteria of a High Probability of a Substance Use disorder requires meeting only ONE rule. Meeting more than one rule does not necessarily mean a more severe disorder. The DSM-5 evaluates for severity ranging from mild, moderate to severe based on the number of diagnosable criteria met.

CLINICAL ISSUES TO CONSIDER

Giving clinical feedback to this client or any client for that matter, is to use the information they have given you from the questionnaire. Pulling information from this client’s questionnaire, the FVOD and the SYM responses can help start the conversation regarding how she is using drugs, under what circumstances and consequences of her use. For online users wanting access to the SYM questions, go to sassionline.com, log-in: go to ‘my clients’ tab; then ‘support materials’ tab. Under Adult SASSI-4 Online User’s Guide go to the SYM section, Pg.19. You will find a list of the SYM questions you can coordinate with your client’s completed questionnaire. A reminder: only with face valid scales i.e FVA, FVOD, SYM and Rx scales can you do content analysis of the questions.

The purpose of feedback is not trying to convince her that marijuana is a drug and she has a disorder but to use the information she, herself, has given you to explore how her drug use is impacting her in a negative way or in some ways interfering in her life.

TREATMENT CONSIDERATIONS

The OAT score result implies group treatment intervention would not be the first choice for this client. Information specifically regarding marijuana’s addictive qualities and impact on the body could be included in individual motivational counseling. Establishing a goal regarding her use, including reduction or abstinence is part of treatment planning no matter the context. Even though she is not defensive, establishing rapport and trust may be instrumental in facilitating this client to take a closer look at her drug use and eventually be open to group experiences.

If you have any clinical questions, be sure to call our free helpline to talk to our clinicians. We are available M-F, 12-5 EST at 800-726-0526.

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SASSI-4 Profile of Adult Male Involved in a Custody Suit with ex-Spouse

A substance use evaluation administered on an individual involved in a custody suit can reliably be fraught with issues. This one presents a number of them.

This 39-year-old client was instructed to complete the FVA/FVOD questions for his whole lifetime.

A significant issue was his history of 4 DUI’s from 2020 – 2021 while in the process of separation and divorce. He denies his current use is anything like it was during that period.

The SASSI result indicated a Low Probability of a substance use disorder.

His RAP was 1 but not enough to flag the results and his Prescription Drug Scale was zero.

Looking at how his scores compare on the graph; we first see the average scores of his FVA and FVOD scales which may be suspect given his DUI history. His average SYM score suggests he does not acknowledge significant symptoms or consequences of his use despite 4 DUI’s. Face Valid Scales are easy to manipulate or minimize if the client chooses as they directly relate to substance use.

Moving on to the subtle scales starting with OAT, we see it is very low but within the norm. If it were any lower, it would indicate he has a hard time acknowledging personal limitations and shortcomings so there may be a hint of that going on. It is the next two subtle scales which contribute the most. The SAT scale is below the 15th percentile and when it is this low can indicate the client is hypersensitive to what others think of him, maybe experiences feelings of rejection so comes across as having a chip on his shoulder.

The extremely high-DEF score (above the 98th percentile) questions the Low Probability Result.  As suggested, If the DEF is 8 or more, that increases the possibility of the SASSI missing individuals with a substance use disorder. It does not invalidate the result. There are many reasons for a high DEF – it could be situational – and it is not unusual in custody disputes to see a high DEF. It could be the client was defensive around their substance use. It could be that he has a defensive personality in general. The administrator is tasked with determining the meaning of the DEF scale score. It also tells you how to clinically approach a client who has difficulty opening up, is hypersensitive to others and is defensive.

The SAM score, though low, is the only scale which does not have an individual clinical interpretation. It is used in the decision rules to increase the validity and accuracy of the other scales it is paired with. It is also used to ascertain if the client is defensive around their substance use if both the DEF and SAM are elevated.

The FAM and COR results are not clinically significant.

In this kind of a case, the question of what timeframe to use with the FVA and FVOD scales comes up. It depends on several factors. Lifetime does give you an overall baseline of substance use but if you want a more “focused” timeframe, the last twelve months should be considered. Sometimes there is the issue of missing someone who had a significant issue in the past but is not currently using it, so a high probability result becomes a risk statement. A reminder:  the SASSI cannot determine what a client is currently doing. This inventory is part of the information gathered by the administrator which is incorporated into the whole assessment.

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The Interrelationship of Bullying, Shaming & SUD among LGBTQ Adolescents

As we approach the end of PRIDE month, we are pleased to share a short article we recently published that discusses substance misuse and explores the genesis and exacerbation of drug use among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) teens. In the article, we look at the possible connection between bullying and other oppressive behavior (such as shaming) and acknowledged substance use and suicide. We hope you will take the time to read and share it. “Bullying and Oppressive Behaviors Towards LGBTQ Adolescents: Substance Use Disorders in the Making?”

We hope you will take the time to read and share it. “Bullying and Oppressive Behaviors Towards LGBTQ Adolescents: Substance Use Disorders in the Making?”

Opportunity for Experienced SASSI Users

If you enjoy sharing knowledge and have an enthusiasm for the SASSI, we invite you to consider becoming a certified SASSI trainer. We are looking for individuals to offer live in-person trainings to the public (open trainers) in their state/province of residence and possibly surrounding states/provinces, as well as individuals to provide training for their organization’s staff and their satellite offices (closed trainers).

Open trainers charge a fee to participants and advertise their training to the public (placement on SASSI website is provided). Closed trainers do not advertise to the public and do not collect a registration fee for providing the training. Both types of trainers can issue certificates of attendance with continuing education credits and all materials needed to provide training are sent at no cost.

Qualifications for trainers are as follows:

  • At least five years of experience in addictions or mental health counseling
  • Experience in assessment, group work, teaching, or workshop presentation
  • Experience using the SASSI, having screened at least 20 clients with it
  • Good verbal communication skills
  • Education: College degree or advanced degree or certification as a substance abuse professional
  • Experience in psychometrics helpful, but not required

Procedures for obtaining open trainer certification can be found here and closed trainer certification here. Please reply to scarlett@sassi.com with any questions or to apply.

How the SASSI can be a Useful Tool in the LGBTQIA+ Community

Overall, the SASSI can be a valuable tool for helping members of the LGBTQIA+ community by identifying and addressing substance use disorders. It can provide a standardized and sensitive way to screen for these issues and can help to ensure that individuals receive appropriate care and support based on their unique needs and experiences.

Read more

SASSI Online Tips and Tricks: Volume 5 | Account Dashboard Overview

SASSI Online is our web-based platform that supports the digital administration of the Adult SASSI-4, Adolescent SASSI-A3, and Spanish SASSI. It provides a report with interpretive paragraphs outlining the decision rules and results from client responses. In this edition of SASSI Online Tips and Tricks we review the Dashboard Tabs, their functions and what the different Roles have access to.

All SASSI Online users have a Dashboard. When logged in to their account, they will see the text in the top right corner, text that reads: “Account Dashboard for [name on account]”
Below is a description of each tab:

News – This space is used to provide updates from SASSI regarding research projects, questionnaire updates, and any other information specific to SASSI customers. Including these blog posts!

My Clients – This space is used to administer questionnaires, redeliver questionnaires, view reports, view completed questionnaires, and access the support materials page; this is where most of the work happens.

Admin Tab – This tab is only available to the Primary Clinical Contact (PCC). Here they can view client reports that counselors on their account have administered. The counselors cannot see the PCC’s clients, or those that belong to other counselors on their account.

Purchasing & Distribution – This tab is available to the Purchaser only. This space is used to purchase more questionnaires and manage distribution groups. Distribution groups are self-managing but can be customized to accommodate multiple counselors/users on an account who do not share a budget. The Purchaser can create Distribution Groups to add specific quantities of available SASSI questionnaires and add only the counselors/users that should have access to them.

My Account – This workspace will provide information about your account. If you are not the PCC and/or Purchaser, information about who is, is made available here. If you are the PCC, the list of registered counselors is found on this tab. All users can change their password and update account information and access their Customer ID. The PCC can also invite Counselors and Intake Staff to register.

If you are not currently using SASSI Online and would like to experience the features of the digital platform, create an account at www.sassionline.com. If you already have an account, let us know if you have any suggestions for our next edition of SASSI Online Tips and Tricks. As a bonus for reading this blog post to the end, reach out to us at blog@sassi.com, with the code phrase: Account Dashboard, to request two free SASSI Online administrations!