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201 Camelot Lane Springville, IN 47462 800-726-0526 e-mail: [email protected]


Volume 11, Number 1 Fall 2003


by Frank Miller

A brief history.... S ubstance A buse S ubtle S creening I nventory

The SASSI Institute

Friends and colleagues often ask about the SASSI Institute ­ Where is it located? How did it get started? Is it a large corporation? In SASSI trainings, the trainers acquaint the participants with background information. Because not all SASSI users have attended training, I would like to take this opportunity to present a brief history of an organization with which I am very proud to be associated. In the early 1970's, when Dr. Glenn Miller was collaborating on one of the first federally funded DWI programs, he became aware of the need for a brief, simple, yet accurate instrument to screen for substance dependence. Thus began the years of research and development that resulted in the formation of the SASSI Institute and publication of the first Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory in 1988. Since that time the adult SASSI has been updated twice, the original adolescent version has been updated to become the SASSI-A2, and a Spanish SASSI was introduced last year. In addition to ongoing research to increase the utility of existing measures, the SASSI Institute

In this Issue:

Director's Chair ............................ 1 New Writing Workshop Offered ............................................ 2 New Prevention Assessment Inventory and SASSI Evaluation Services ............................................. 2 Sample PAI report for school system ............................................... 3 Clinical Interpretation & Profile .............................................. 4 Training & Conference Schedules ........................................ 5

is directing its efforts to develop other useful clinical tools such as the Addiction Treatment Outcome Measure, the Quality of Recovery Index, and the Prevention Assessment Inventory. The SASSI Institute is a small, family organization that is dedicated to maintaining a high level of integrity in presenting substance abuse information and materials. Its mission is to support human service practitioners in their efforts to enhance the quality of people's lives. Many of us joined the "SASSI family" while the Institute operated from the basement of the Millers' home. We fondly recall those early days and our subsequent sojourn through two office suites in Bloomington. In the mid 1990's, Glenn and Margie began their search to find a permanent home for the Institute. In 1998 the SASSI Institute moved into its new location in the countryside in Southern Indiana, which was formerly a camel farm (yes, you read that right). The large barn was converted into offices with views of pastures, woods, ponds and an abundance of birds and wildlife. Glenn and Margie, who live on the premises, appropriately named it "Camelot." We all feel extremely fortunate to be in such a lovely and serene work environment. We would like to express appreciation to the many SASSI users who have taken the time to let us know that they have found the SASSI to be a useful and valuable tool in their assessment programs. To those of you who are new to the SASSI, and also to those who may have years of experience, we welcome you to contact us any time that you need information or assistance using our measures...(or even when you need a place to board your pet camel).


Assessment & Report Writing for Addictions Counselors: Learn the Basics - Lose the Stress!

Many addictions counselors feel uncomfortable about writing reports of assessments, treatment recommendations, and discharge summaries. Given that assessment procedures and tools are not 100% accurate, we often do not feel completely confident about our findings and conclusions; yet, we must commit them to paper and sign our names. Even though we may be experts in conducting assessments and making treatment recommendations, it is sometimes challenging to find a way to put our findings in a completely accurate and defensible form. The goal of the workshop will be to demystify the process of assessment and provide the participants with concrete suggestions on how to write defensible re Understanding the meaning of test results How to clearly present clients' selfreports, collateral information, test results, conclusions, and recommendations. Ethical considerations The workshop is conducted by Frank Miller, Director of the SASSI Institute. Certificates will be available at the end of the training session for 6.5 NAADAC-approved CEUs. If you or your organization have an interest in this workshop, please contact Mindy Caron at 800-697-2774.

ports and recommendations. Learning Objectives: Increased knowledge of how to draw conclusions from assessment data

NEW Prevention Assessment Inventory And Related Program Evaluation Services

The SASSI Institute is pleased to offer program evaluation services to middle schools and other organizations that are implementing substance abuse prevention programs for preteens. Standard services include: Creation of a computerized data file of the students' responses on the Prevention Assessment Inventory Development of a written report on the data from the Prevention Assessment Inventory prevention program. The inventory is in the process of development. Data on its psychometric properties are being gathered, and the item and scale composition is not yet finalized. It measures: Self-reports of use of alcohol and other drugs Beliefs regarding the perceived harmfulness of alcohol and other drugs Sense of personal control Self-efficacy Ability to cope with feelings Attitudes toward school tion that can be generated from the Prevention Assessment Inventory. Depending on the type of data that are provided, reports can also include information on control groups and differences in responding as a function of age, grade, gender, and ethnicity. Since the Prevention Assessment Inventory is in the process of development, there will be changes in the item composition. Therefore, the information contained in future reports may differ from that which is included in the sample. (See sample Prevention Assessment Report on a 5th grade class in a fictional school system.) You may contact Frank Miller at The SASSI Institute regarding the cost of the services and to discuss additional program evaluation services.

The Prevention Assessment Inventory is a 35-item questionnaire that is designed to be administered to students before (pre-test) and after (post-test) participation in the

The sample report for the school system illustrates the type of informa2

Prevention Assessment Report

Sample School System


During the 2001-2002 school year, 5 grade students from Sample School System participated in a prevention program entitled In My House. The In My House program uses interactive journaling to foster self-exploration and empowerment in nine areas of life: Substance Use Respecting Others School Feelings Relationships Having Fun Self-image The Body The Future


As a means of testing the impact of the prevention program, students completed the Prevention Assessment Inventory prior to beginning the prevention program and upon completion of the In My House curriculum. The Prevention Assessment Inventory contains 35 questions designed to measure students' self-reports regarding use and perceived harmfulness of alcohol and other drugs. It also assesses students' selfefficacy, sense of personal control, ability to deal with feelings, and attitudes toward school. The following report is based on data from 58 students who completed the pre- and post-tests. Substance Use The Prevention Assessment Inventory includes four questions that address substance use. Students are asked to report whether or not they have used each of four classes of substances within the past 30 days - 1) alcohol, 2) tobacco, 3) marijuana, and 4) cocaine, inhalants, heroin or other drugs. The primary finding was that the majority of students reported abstinence. On the pre-test, 4 students reported using at least one of the four classes of substances during the past 30 days, and 6 reported substance use on the post-test. Alcohol was the most commonly used substance and was used by all except one of the students who reported any substance use. Tobacco was the second most commonly used substance. Two students reported tobacco use on the pre-test and four reported tobacco use on the post-test. Three students smoked marijuana during the 30 days prior to the pre-test, and only one reported use of marijuana on the post-test. One student reported use of "hard drugs" on both the pre- and post-tests. Perceived Harmfulness of Alcohol and Other Drugs In the Prevention Assessment Inventory, the students are asked to rate each of the four classes of substances as not too harmful, a little harmful, somewhat harmful, or very harmful. Alcohol was perceived as the least harmful substance. Only 50% of the students reported that alcohol is more than slightly harmful. Tobacco and marijuana received equivalent ratings, and almost all of the students perceived other drugs as at least somewhat harmful (see following table).

Percentage of students who perceived substances as being somewhat or very harmful Alcohol

Pre-test Post-test 50% 70%


70% 80%


77% 80%

Other Drugs

97% 96%

The In My House program appears to have had an impact on students' perceptions of the harmfulness of substances. Upon completion of the prevention program, the percentage of students who reported that alcohol was harmful increased from 50% to 70%, and there was a 10% increase in the number of students who perceived that tobacco was harmful (70% on the first administration and 80% on the second administration). There was a trivial increase in perceived harmfulness of marijuana (77% to 80%) and a 1% decrease in perceived harmfulness of other drugs (97% to 96%). Self-acceptance The Prevention Assessment Inventory contains items that assess the extent to which students feel good about themselves, e.g., How comfortable are you with the fact that there are things about you that make you different from other kids? Sixty -two percent of the students who completed the In My House curriculum and took the assessment test at the beginning and end of the year showed positive change on the scale that measures selfacceptance. Personal Control Some of the items on the scale of personal control are: I can stay calm, cool and in control when I'm in a situation in which people are angry and threatening. How strong are you when other people are trying to get you to do something that you don't want to do? Seventy-one percent of the students showed positive change on that scale. Feelings The feeling scale includes items such as: When you are mad or really upset about something, how likely are you to take the time to stop and think before you act? Sixty-nine percent of the students showed positive change on the Feelings scale. School The scale that measures adjustment to school contains items such as: I set goals for myself at school. I like coming to school. Fifty-six percent of the students showed positive change on that scale. Summary and Conclusions Almost all of the students reported no use of alcohol or other drugs during the 30 days prior to each administration of the Prevention Assessment Inventory. The most outstanding finding in the present research is that there was an increase in students' perceptions of the harmfulness of substances, particularly alcohol and tobacco. Also, the majority of the students showed positive change on the measures of adjustment and functioning that are contained in the Prevention Assessment Inventory. While it is difficult to assess the impact of a prevention program without longitudinal data, the students' increased knowledge of the potential harmful effects of alcohol and other substances, as well as their growth in the four aspects of adjustment and functioning, provide some evidence of the effectiveness of the program.



Differentiating between Substance Use and a Substance Use Disorder in Teens

by Wayne Renn, Clinical Director

In this issue of News & Reports, we will take a look at a sample adolescent case where the SASSI-A2 may provide useful information in helping to differentiate between experimental/recreational substance use and a Substance Use Disorder. This fictitious case is based in part on SASSI-A2 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. He was referred to the school counselor after he was caught drinking beer on the school campus with some of his friends during a schoolsponsored 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 then usual on some weeknights and that they confronted him once about alcohol on his breath. The SASSI-A2 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 1-9 answered "no"). The VAL and SCS scales are not elevated, suggesting that there is not a particularly high likelihood that the SASS I 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. Given the Low Probability outcome and scale scores in the average range, it is reasonable to infer from these results 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. Treatment Recommendations: The SASSI-A2 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-A2. 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 peergroup support may also be effective in helping Josh make healthier social choices.



These are upcoming SASSI trainings in the US and Canada that have been scheduled thus far from September 1, 2003 through December 31, 2003. This list is updated weekly. For more information on these and other trainings, please call Scarlett or Melissa at 1-800-697-2774, or check our web site at

Code: AS (Administration & Scoring); CI (Clinical Interpretation)



Juneau Anchorage Tucson Tempe Pasadena Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton, ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Oct-15-03 AS & CI Oct-17-03 AS & CI Oct-03-03 AS & CI Oct-10-03 AS & CI Oct-10-03 AS & CI Sep-05-03 CI Sep-26-03 AS Oct-03-03 CI Oct-31-03 AS Nov-07-03 CI Nov-28-03 AS Dec-05-03 CI Dec-26-03 AS Sep-26-03 Oct-10-03 Oct-31-03 Dec-12-03 AS & CI AS & CI AS & CI AS & CI

Brent Geary Brent Geary Brent Geary Brent Geary Terry Sheneman Sharron Sharron Sharron Sharron Sharron Sharron Sharron Sharron Karen Karen Karen Karen Wood Wood Wood Wood Wood Wood Wood Wood


Okemos/Lansing Sep-09-03 AS & CI Raleigh Asheville Greensboro Santa Fe New York Cleveland Akron/Canton Troy Troy Tulsa Norman Tulsa Norman Pittsburgh Kingston Columbia Arlington Houston Dallas Austin Rutland Sep-17-03 AS & CI Oct-15-03 AS & CI Dec-10-03 AS & CI

Philip Osborne Regina Forest Regina Forest Regina Forest


Sep-26-03 AS & CI Charles Blanchard Oct-09-03 AS Sep-10-03 Sep-26-03 Sep-26-03 Nov-07-03 Sep-12-03 Oct-10-03 Nov-07-03 Dec-12-03 AS & CI AS & CI AS & CI AS & CI AS & CI AS & CI AS & CI AS & CI Nicholas Lessa Raymond Isackila Raymond Isackila Edward Witte Edward Witte Terry Terry Terry Terry Stover Stover Stover Stover



Ft. Myers Winter Haven Boca Raton Ft. Pierce

Albig-Smith Albig-Smith Albig-Smith Albig-Smith


Oct-24-03 AS & CI Oct-24-03 AS & CI Nov-06-03 AS & CI Sep-12-03 Dec-06-03 Dec-12-03 Dec-13-03 AS & CI AS & CI AS & CI AS & CI

Raymond Isackila Jeff Wedge Regina Forest David Helton Terry Sheneman Steff Samuson Terry Sheneman Jeff Wedge


Council Bluffs Nov-14-03 CI Evergreen Park Sep-26-03 AS & CI Hammond Carmel/Indy Hyannis Oct-17-03 AS & CI Nov-10-03 AS & CI Sep-11-03 AS & CI

William Ricketts Janice Reisch Philip Osborne Philip Osborne Melinda Caron



Sep-26-03 AS & CI

Please visit our booth if you are attending any of the following conferences:

Cape Cod Symposium, Hyannis MA National Association of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors, Washington DC National Conference on Addiction & Criminal Behavior, St. Louis MO Indiana Counselors Association on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Indianapolis IN Employee Assistance Professionals Association, New Orleans LA Southeastern Conference on Alcohol & Drug Addiction, Atlanta GA Louisiana Association of Drug Court Professionals, New Orleans LA National Student Assistance Conference, Orlando FL Sep 11-14, 2003 Sep 14-16, 2003 Sep 14-17, 2003 Oct 7-8, 2003 Nov 22-24, 2003 Dec 3-6, 2003 Feb 18-20, 2004 Mar10-12, 2004




We are accepting applications for SASSI Trainers in the following areas. To qualify, we ask that applicants be residents of the state or province in which they wish to train and have experience using the SASSI. CONNECTICUT, EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA, OREGON, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, WASHINGTON

If you have an interest in becoming a trainer for any of these regions, please send your resume and cover letter by October 31st to the attention of Mindy Caron, Training Director, The SASSI Institute, 201 Camelot Lane, Springville, IN 47462, or e-mail [email protected]


201 Camelot Lane Springville, IN 47462

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