Substance Use

Scale: The CRAFFT Screening Questionnaire

What it measures:

  • The scale identifies adolescents who are at high risk for substance and alcohol abuse.

Intended age range: 12- to 18-year-olds.

Brief description: The scale consists of 9 items in 2 domains: the first three questions focus on alcohol and substance use; the remaining six focus on substance use risk behavior. Sample items in the first domain include, “During the past 12 months, did you smoke any marijuana or hashish?” Sample items in the second domain include, “Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who was “high” or had been using alcohol or drugs?” Youth respond with Yes or No. Youth who respond with No to all three of the substance use questions receive a score of “0” and do not proceed to the risk behavior questions. Those responding with Yes to any of these questions are also asked the risk behavior questions

Rationale: This measure was selected based on its brevity, availability in 10 languages and ability to identify young people who are at risk for substance use problems.

Cautions: The CRAFFT is good at identifying youth at risk for substance use problems but is less able to identify the specific type of substance use problem a youth may be experiencing.

Special administration information: This measure can be administered via self-report or in an interview format.

How to score: Each of the six substance use risk behavior questions are scored with 1 for a “Yes” response or 0 for a “No” response and added for a total score.

How to interpret findings: A score of 2 or more indicates a need for additional assessment.

Access and permissions: The measure is available for no fee here.

Alternatives: There are a few well-known epidemiologic measures of alcohol and substance use including the Monitoring the Future Survey (part of an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American youth and young adults) and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) which provides national and state-level data on the use of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and mental health in the United States. Although these measures offer useful comparison data across time and demographic populations, they require more time to administer.

Citation: Knight JR, Shrier LA, Bravender TD, Farrell M, Vander Bilt J, Shaffer HJ. A new brief screen for adolescent substance abuse. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1999;153(6):591-6. DOI: 10.1001/archpedi.153.6.591


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