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.
This is an issue that may be turning up in your clinical practice. The caller wanted help with a profile interpretation on a 13-year-old male who had turned in a vaping pen. The school was mandated to do a substance use evaluation as a result. The online report indicated “inconsistencies” in the results so the counselor wanted more information. The client was instructed to complete the FVA/FVOD side for his whole lifetime.
The overall result, based on all the rules being ‘no’, came up with a Low Probability of a substance use disorder. The Prescription Drug Scale was zero. However, the Validity Check Scale was 6 so further evaluation was recommended. Elevated VAL and DEF scores coupled with a Low Probability result increases the possibility of the SASSI missing individuals with a substance use disorder.
Looking at the graph on the profile sheet helps to pull out additional information. Note the very low (below the 15th percentile) OAT and SAT scores. The low OAT can indicate someone who has a hard time acknowledging personal limitations or shortcomings. The low SAT can indicate someone who has a chip on their shoulder, feelings of rejection and hypersensitivity to others. Interestingly, the DEF score is within the norm and does not indicate the student was defensive completing the SASSI. The FRISK score is above average but within the norm and because it is a Face-valid scale, content analysis of those items may be useful. The other Face-valid scales, ATT and SYM with their scores of 1 can also be examined.
The student who turned in the vaping pen indicated it was not his. It was not clear from the caller what substances they suspected were being used. Clinically, the best thing to keep in mind is that the student has a hard time opening up and is probably very concerned about how he is viewed by teachers, counselors, etc. and very quick to feel rejected. Interacting with him in an accepting and affirming way is probably the best approach.
Substance use issues: The VAL of 6 is a red flag so further evaluation with this student is warranted. It could be on-going oversight within the school, i.e. school counselor or referral to a Substance Use counselor who could do a more formal and comprehensive assessment.
We hope this is useful for you.
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Happy New Year everyone!
I received my first Adolescent A-3 call on the helpline and was so excited and when I heard the numbers, I knew exactly why the clinician was calling.
As you look at the profile, you can see most of the numbers are within the norm. He meets Rule 6 so comes up with a High Probability of a Substance Use Disorder and no Prescription Drug Abuse. So, what clinical information can the scale scores give you with so few scales outside the norm?
Although the FVOD is within the norm, it is above average and as recommended, you can do content analysis of his Face Valid scales. Another scale to pay attention to is the OAT score of 7 which is elevated. This suggests the client can acknowledge personal limitations and shortcomings and identify with other substance abusers. However, he may not want to or think he can change. The other significant score is SAT with a score of 1 which is below the 15th percentile. This suggests he may be hypersensitive to others and comes across as having a chip on his shoulder. This gives you good information on how to approach this client, especially when giving him feedback as you process the results with him because he is not giving you a whole lot of direct information regarding his use.
A word about the VAL of 6. If the numbers had resulted in a Low Probability of a Substance Use Disorder, you would question the results and do further investigation. Because he met Rule 6, there is no need to address the VAL. That said, with the VAL being so high, was this individual trying to manipulate the questionnaire and didn’t succeed?
Finally, users of the older version will notice that the SCS has been eliminated. This will require your use of the DSM-5 to determine the diagnosis and level of severity from your assessment.
Hope this information is instructive and assists you in your practice. And remember, as usual, we are here to help, so give the clinical line a call at 800-726-0526, press 2.
This sample case is based in part on SASSI-A3 scale scores that were called into our clinical help desk. The client, Josh (not his real name), is a 17-year-old male who was a senior in high school at the time of the assessment.
Josh was referred to the school counselor after he was caught drinking beer on the school campus with some of his friends during a school-sponsored activity. Josh, an above-average student with no prior history of alcohol or drug-related problems, plans to attend college in the fall. His parents reported that Josh had been staying out later than usual on some weeknights and that they confronted him once about alcohol on his breath.
The SASSI-A3 was administered as part of the assessment to rule out the possibility of a Substance Use Disorder. The scores are illustrated in the accompanying profile. The results indicate that Josh has a Low Probability of having a Substance Use Disorder (Rule 1-8 answered “no”). The VAL and DEF scales arenot elevated, suggesting that there is not a particularly high likelihood that the SASSI incorrectly missed identifying Josh as having a Substance Use Disorder. He appears to have responded to the instrument in a forthright manner and therefore probably provided a reasonably accurate account of his alcohol and drug-related experiences (DEF=4). On the FVA items he reports using to cope with problems, moderate loss of control (drinking more than he intended to once or twice), and negative consequences including the current incident and confrontation with his parents. Both the FRISK and ATT are elevated so some attention should be given to who Josh is associating with along with his beliefs and values regarding substance use.
Given the Low Probability outcome, it is reasonable to infer from this result that Josh is most likely involved in a pattern of substance use that is experimental/recreational in nature. However, given that he has begun to experience some issues of loss of control and negative consequences, he may be at risk for developing a substance use problem if he does not receive adequate assistance and support for behavioral change. This may be a particularly important consideration when he goes to college and is likely to be exposed to peer groups in which regular substance use is the norm.
The SASSI-A3 results indicate that Josh is not likely to have a Substance Use Disorder at this time. Additional assessment information did not indicate that Josh has been experiencing risk factors over and above what was already indicated on the SASSI-A3. He will most likely benefit from a cognitively based educational/ prevention program geared towards increasing his awareness of the harmful effects of alcohol use. Values clarification and exploring alternate means of peer group support may also be effective in helping Josh make healthier social choices.
On Monday, November 9th,the CEO of Pfizer announced positive early results from its coronavirus vaccine trial, citing an over 90% effectiveness rate during its first phase of clinical trials. This is truly monumental news of worldwide significance. This fact has renewed hope throughout the country, indeed throughout the world, that we were finally coming closer to achieving a response to this deadly Pandemic. We at The SASSI Institute maintain our fervent hopes that in light of the over 100,000 daily national cases that have now become the norm, as a country and internationally, we will soon be able to eradicate this unfathomably terrible disease.
Given the recent spikes, like so many other businesses throughout the country, we recently had to again minimize our in-office time for all staff, including our shipping department. Nevertheless, all of our departments are open for business, and we want to reassure you that we will ship your products out on time, and as promised. We also want to remind you that we maintain our schedule of a December 1st SASSI Adolescent-3 release and that we have several articles in submission while we await their scientific review. Please contact our Customer Service team for pre-ordering information, and/or our Training Department for our upcoming training schedules.
I am delighted to announce that our Board of Directors and management team want to assure you that given this calamitous year, and in the hopes of giving our customer base a hand-up, we will not be raising prices in 2021. In fact, if you are experiencing financial difficulties, please contact our Customer Service Team and/or our Training team. They are more than willing to make suitable payment arrangements and offer their assistance during these difficult times.
We sincerely hope that you, your families, and colleagues remain safe. We remain confident that better times lie ahead!
It is with great pride that we announce the release of our latest adolescent research manuscript. This article is based on one key aspect of the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI) Institute’s forthcoming third iteration of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI-A3). While our primary goal was to develop a screening tool for adolescents that is concordant with the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) guidelines, we found other aspects of the instrument that we felt were beneficial to investigate further. This article, Vaping and Edibles: Self-Reported Usage Patterns Among Teens In and Out of Treatment, focuses on questions regarding cannabidiol (CBD) edible consumption and the extent of vaping to review and subsequently address these dangers in teens.
Teens that begin using alcohol, drugs, and tobacco early in adolescence are more likely to engage in vaping and edible usage. They are also more likely to use at a more frequent rate. Early intervention is a critical component towards preventing possible negative outcomes for substance misusing teens. Identifying these patterns will inevitably direct the course of subsequent clinical interviews and treatment planning.
Our Team at the Institute has been working tirelessly on a two-year research project to bring you an updated adolescent instrument that is validated against the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. Our research has produced multiple publications and allowed the SASSI-A3 to include some new features, including a brief scale, Prescription Drug (Rx), to accurately identify teens likely to be abusing prescription medications. The updated version also includes new subtle items to reflect current teen alcohol and drug use patterns, as well as several updated questions using contemporary teen verbiage, and additional Face Valid items to identify symptoms in the DSM-5. The instrument also distinguishes likely Substance Use Disorder (SUD) from other psychological disorders; thus, the SASSI-A3 can accurately identify the presence and the absence of SUD, even when other psychological symptoms are present.
The SASSI-A3 will be available through SASSI Online immediately upon release and SASSI Online users can begin using it immediately on December 1st. Paper & Pencil product will be available for pre-order starting November 1st, with our first shipment of SASSI-A3 product/s scheduled for December 4th. After December 1st, the Adolescent SASSI-A2 Paper & Pencil material will remain available for purchase for a limited time, or while supplies last.
We wanted to provide you some important SASSI updates. We’re excited to announce that the research findings on the adolescent SASSI-A3 have been published! Within the coming weeks and next few months, we will be concentrating our efforts on publishing the SASSI-A3 instrument, which similarly to the adult screening tool, now includes a prescription drug scale and greater sensitivity to opioids and prescription medications. The updated instrument will available on our online platform immediately on the release date. We will provide additional details and pre-ordering information as soon as we have a confirmed availability date. You can read the published finding here: Validity of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Screening Inventory-3 (SASSI-A3). We also expect to publish other manuscripts examining co-occurring disorders among some of these adolescents; and the increase and dangers of Vaping as a drug source for them and adults, which has increased dramatically in recent years. These manuscripts are in submission and we hope to have them published by year end as well.
On another note, despite wonderful advances in securing possible cures and vaccines, COVID-19 clinical trials, and worldwide collaboratives to address this virus, the unfortunate reality is that the case numbers continue to climb and sadly, the death toll continues to rise. This has forced many states and local governments, and even the federal government, to change well thought initiatives and plans, and even back-track on some of the openings and relaxing of public health statutes. As a result, many private practitioners and even some long-standing programs have had to continue furloughing operations, or sadly cease operating altogether. With even greater sadness, we have heard multiple reports from the substance abuse, treatment, and correctional field/s about the loss of family, colleagues and friends to this devastating disease, and our hearts and prayers continue to go out to their families.
The SASSI Institute remains committed to helping you stay connected and feel supported during this period of uncertainty. We will be informing you of developments as they occur on our end. But for now, please accept heartfelt wishes from all of us, that you and your families remain safe.
We will get through this together!
One of the trickier aspects of incorporating the SASSI results in a substance use assessment is extracting the clinical interpretation of what elevated scores mean and the relationship between the scales. If you have taken SASSI training, especially the Clinical Interpretation session, you were introduced to ‘Profile Configurations.’ This section gets more in-depth into interpreting the scales and clinically drawing on information that can better inform how to work with your client as well as consideration of treatment modalities.
Starting with the Face Valid Alcohol and Other Drug Scales versus Subtle Scales, which when one of those is elevated can make a big difference on how you approach your client with the results. A high probability result based on only Face Valid scales can indicate good treatment readiness, life-style issues (that is, how they are functioning at work, school, home, etc. and been acknowledged by the client), with behavioral consequences being greater than psychological addiction. The client can readily tell you how their life has become unmanageable. With this client, group therapy and/or support groups could be considered.
A high probability result based only on Subtle Scales is going to feel more like a brick wall. The client exhibits less awareness and may not be able to, or doesn’t want to acknowledge a problem. This could be based on having experienced only a few negative consequences so they do not feel the impact of their addiction. They could also come across as defensive. Finally, they could be ‘sincerely deluded’ and at this point, unable to connect the dots for themselves. This client will need a lot of support to become aware that their use of substances is having an impact on their life functioning. Individual therapy may be the initial therapeutic intervention working towards other modalities as needed.
If you have attended Session II of SASSI Training, you received an outline of scale interpretation. But we would like to make sure all SASSI users have access to this valuable resource. You can download a copy by clicking the following link: “SASSI Scales in Interpretation & Feedback.”
Hope this information is instructive and assists you in your practice. And remember, as usual, we are here to help, so give the clinical line a call at 888-297-2774 or 800-726-0526, press 2.