SACS - The Substances and Choices Scale

The Substances and Choices Scale - SACS

Alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems are a significant health issue for young people around the world. Routine use of an AOD screening and outcome measurement instrument in health services can increase awareness of substance use difficulties and provide a focus for AOD interventions. A number of AOD instruments have been designed for use in adolescent populations however most of these are unsuitable for reasons such as length, cost and content. The Substances and Choices Scale (SACS) is a new adolescent AOD screening and outcome measurement instrument that has been designed to overcome many of the drawbacks associated with other instruments.

The SACS a one-page pencil and paper self-report questionnaire designed to be administered by health professionals who are working with young people aged 13-18 years. It takes about 5 minutes to complete. It is free of charge. Although it can be used alone, it is in a similar format to the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) so the two instruments can be used together. Together the SDQ and the SACS will assist in identifying young people at risk and assessing their needs at first presentation in order to determine best treatment options. Most importantly the combination of tools can measure outcome as young people progress through the treatment process.

The SACS has three sections. The first section records the number of occasions the young person has used a variety of substances in the last month. The second section measures both substance use related symptoms and substance related harm. Scoring this section yields the 'SACS difficulties score' from 0 to 20. This score can be used to screen or measure change through a treatment episode. The third section asks about tobacco use.



The Substances and Choices Scale (SACS) - the development and testing of a new alcohol and other drug screening and outcome measurement instrument for young people.

Authors: Grant Christie, Reginald Marsh, Janie Sheridan, Amanda Wheeler, Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni, Stella Black, Rachael Butler. Addiction, Volume 102, Number 9, September 2007, pp. 1390-1398(9)


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