Management of substance abuse

The WHO ASSIST Phase III (2002-2007)

The WHO ASSIST Phase III project consisted of a randomized controlled trial of a brief intervention with persons who screen positive for moderate risk for cannabis, opiate, cocaine, or amphetamine-type stimulant use on the ASSIST. The model for this project was that used by WHO to advance alcohol screening and brief intervention through the development of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT).

The project had the following broad aims:

  • To undertake an international multi-site collaborative project to evaluate the effectiveness of a brief intervention for illicit drugs (cannabis, opiates, cocaine and amphetamine-type stimulants) as linked to the ASSIST in a variety of primary health care settings and in a number of different cultural contexts;
  • To develop a manual of patient and clinician resources incorporating instructions for administering the ASSIST and Brief Intervention, self-help materials on specific drug information and generic self-help strategies to reduce drug use, information on injecting risk and a feedback card on current drug use.

The participating sites were in Australia (Adelaide), Brazil (São Paulo, Curitiba), India (New Delhi), and the United States of America (California, Connecticut). The coordinating centre is the Drug and Alcohol Services Council in Australia.

The ASSIST project

The Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) was developed for the World Health Organization (WHO) by an international group of substance abuse researchers to detect and manage substance use and related problems in primary and general medical care settings.

ASSIST project phases:

Phase I (1997-1999)

Planning and ASSIST development.
International feasibility and reliability study of the ASSIST.

Phase II (2000-2002)

International validity study of the ASSIST.
Feasibility study of brief interventions linked to the ASSIST.

Phase III (2002-2007

International study of effectiveness of a brief intervention linked to the ASSIST (randomized controlled trial).

Phase IV (2008-2011)

Development of effective and sustainable models of ASSIST-based interventions. Dissemination, implementation and evaluation of ASSIST-based interventions in different settings and contexts.