Eric K. Mason



Addiction Severity Index


The Addiction Severity Index is comprehensive assessment used to gauge the severity of clients’ drug addiction. The (ASI) Addiction Severity Index is a 150 question questionnaire, which measures the impact of substances on multiple areas of the client’s life, such as degree of legal problems, financial consequences, familial troubles, and health complications. The ASI is a semi-structured instrument used in face-to-face interviews conducted by clinicians, researchers or trained technicians (McLellan, 1980).

The ASI is available in pencil and paper form, a “lite” form, as well as a multimedia version. The ASI is divided in six parts: Medical status, employment/support status, drug/alcohol use, legal status, family/social relationships, and psychiatric status. The ASI measures the effect that the client’s addiction has had on these six areas of the client’s life (Butler, 2001).

It takes about an hour to administer the ASI. The lite version of the ASI has 22 fewer questions than the original ASI and, therefore, is more able to be completed more quickly.  The multimedia version of the ASI is self-administered and scored automatically. The multimedia version may be completed onsite or remotely via a secured internet connection (Butler, 2001).

One study found that the multimedia version had excellent test-retest reliability. Criterion validly was also found to be good when tested against the clinician-administered ASI.  In regards to severity ratings, there was much variability amongst clinician ratings and multimedia version. That is, clinicians varied widely in how the severity ratings that they gave each client. This led the researchers to conclude that the multimedia version may be more consistent than using the clinician-guided version of the ASI. In addition, the multimedia version of the ASI was found to have excellent convergent and discriminant validity (Butler, 2001).

In another study, the ASI was found to correlate highly with DSM-IV-TR diagnosis of drug and alcohol dependence at (r > .7 and r > .5, respectively). The ASI identified dependent clients with approximately 85% sensitivity and 80% specificity. This led the researchers to determine that the ASI is a viable option for diagnosing drug and alcohol dependence by DSM-IV-TR standards (Rikoon, 2004).




Bultler, A., et al. (2001). Initial validation of a computer-administered addiction severity

index: The ASI–MV. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 15 (1), 4-12


McLellan, A., et al.  (1980). An improved diagnostic evaluation instrument for substance

abuse patients: The addiction severity index. Journal of Nervous and Mental   

Disorders, 168 (1):26-33.



Rikoon, S., et al. (2004), Predicting DSM-IV dependence diagnoses from Addiction Severity

Index composite scores.  The College on Problems of Drug Dependence.


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