SACS - The Substances and Choices Scale

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)

Disclaimer - The Substances and Choices Scale (SACS) is available for use by researchers and not-for-profit health agencies that provide services to enhance the health and well-being of young people. It has been designed to be only used by health professionals who have an active and ongoing relationship with the recipient of the questionnaire. This is so that issues around confidentiality can be discussed, and so that appropriate mental health support can be accessed if required. ALAC and those involved in developing the SACS do not accept any responsibility or liability for any direct or indirect loss, problems or consequences of any kind arising from the use or misuse of the SACS.

Copyright - The different versions of the Substances and Choices Scale and its associated documents are copyrighted documents. The SACS may be used without charge by non-profit organizations as long as clients are not charged for its use. Electronic reproductions of the SACS are permitted if the content remains identical and formatting is similar to the paper version. Please note however that the SACS is validated as a pen and paper questionnaire only.