One of the challenges faced by healthcare providers is being able to effectively screen for substance abuse among patients. Some patients may only have a higher risk of a substance use disorder and could use prevention strategies while others have already crossed the line into a substance use disorder.

Recently released by The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a new web-based screening tool is designed to assess risk for substance misuse as well as the possibility for the presence of a substance use disorder. The tool can also provide healthcare providers with assistance in prevention and substance abuse treatment strategies.

New Substance Abuse Risk Screening Tool Available

In the past, there have not been many standardized or reliable substance abuse assessment tools. The NIDA’s new scientifically-validated online screening tool can help a healthcare provider identify a patient’s substance abuse problem.

Called the Tobacco, Alcohol, Prescription Medication, and Other Substance Use Tool, or TAPS, the system was developed by the NIDA’s clinical trials network. Unlike other assessment tools, TAPS eliminates the requirement for lengthy assessments and multiple screenings.

How Does TAPS Work?

TAPS is not an assessment meant to be taken without medical supervision. It can be self-administered online, but only at the direction of a healthcare professional. It can also be given via a personal interview with a medical professional.

There are two parts to the TAPS tool. TAPS-1, the first component, has a four-part screening for tobacco, alcohol, non-medical use of prescription drugs, and illicit drugs. If patients have a positive screening on TAPS-1, they move on to the second part. TAPS-2 is a series of assessments for the risk of substance use disorder for particular substances. Risk levels will range from “problem use” to “substance use disorder.”

TAPS takes under five minutes to administer and is a proven way to identify patients who have substance use disorders and other related risks. If patients are found to have a SUD or to be at a higher risk, the medical provider has the option to refer them for more specialized care, including addiction treatment.

The Benefits of Using TAPS

One of the characteristics of addiction is that is that the person suffering often does not realize the true nature and severity of the problem. If not identified and addressed, a substance use disorder could quickly become life-threatening. A recent study showed that TAPS, when used in a primary care setting, was effective in several of the following ways:

  • Normalizes the conversation about drug and alcohol use
  • Reinforces healthy behaviors and provides opportunities for prevention
  • Assists medical staff in diagnosing and treating psychiatric and medical conditions
  • Identifies patients who are at risk for addiction
  • Informs prescribing practices to avoid medication interactions and overdose
  • Guides provider interventions and addiction treatment recommendations
  • Identifies patients in need of treatment for a substance use disorder

Since the majority of people who suffer from a substance use disorder fail to recognize that there is a problem, an independent assessment by a trusted healthcare provider could be invaluable. If you need addiction treatment, The Recovery Village can help.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.