Alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems are a significant health issue for young people around the world and routine use of an AOD screening and outcome measurement instruments are recommended in all kinds of youth services. The Substances and Choices Scale (SACS) is an AOD screening and outcome measurement instrument that is simple to use, acceptable to young people and works well (is reliable and valid).
The SACS is a one-page pencil and paper self-report questionnaire for young people aged 13-18 years. It takes about 5 minutes to complete and is free of charge. It can be completed alone or in association with the young person's health or social agency worker. It is structured in a similar format to the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the two instruments can be used together if a broader perspective on a young person's functioning is required. The SACS can assist in identifying young people at risk of AOD problems and guide future treatment or referral options. In addition it 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.