Brief screens can help people decide whether to seek formal evaluation of their mental health or substance use problems, which often translates into earlier care and better treatment outcomes. Brief screens also can help healthcare providers identify patients or clients who need further evaluation. As a service to our readers, we present some brief screens for addiction and conditions that often co-occur with addiction. If you are at all concerned about your responses to any of these screens, we urge you to share these concerns with a healthcare professional. To find a behavioral health professional near you in the United States, click here.
- Gambling: The BBGS: The 3-item Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen (BBGS) is based on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’s criteria for Gambling Disorder.
- During the past 12 months, have you become restless, irritable, or anxious when trying to stop/cut down on gambling?
- During the past 12 months, have you tried to keep your family or friends from knowing how much you gambled?
- During the past 12 months did you have such financial trouble as a result of your gambling that you had to get help with living expenses from family, friends or welfare?
A “yes” response to any single item indicates potential gambling-related problems and the need for additional evaluation. Click here to use the BBGS Gambling e-Screener and Intervention System – available in 22 languages!
- Drinking: The CAGE: The CAGE is a 4-question screener designed for healthcare providers to ask their patients about their drinking behavior. It is a mnemonic device to remind treatment providers to ask patients these questions:
- Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking?
- Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover (Eye-opener)?
Someone who answers “yes” to at least two questions is considered to have a positive result and should be evaluated further. Visit the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website on screening for alcohol problems for more information
- Substance use: The CRAFFT: The CRAFFT is a brief substance use screening tool for healthcare providers to ask their adolescent patients.
- Have you ever ridden in a Car driven by someone (including yourself) who was “high” or had been using alcohol or drugs?
- Do you ever use alcohol or drugs to Relax, feel better about yourself, or fit in?
- Do you ever use alcohol/drugs while you are by yourself, Alone?
- Do your family or Friends ever tell you that you should cut down on your drinking or drug use?
- Do you ever Forget things you did while using alcohol or drugs?
- Have you gotten into Trouble while you were using alcohol or drugs?
A “yes” to two or more questions suggests a significant problem. Visit the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research website, created by Children’s Hospital Boston, for more information about The CRAFFT.
- Depression and Anxiety: The PHQ-2 and the GAD-2: The PHQ-2 and the GAD-2 are brief screens for depression and anxiety, respectively. These conditions often co-occur with expressions of addiction. If you suspect you are experiencing depression or anxiety, consider these questions:
- Over the last 2 weeks, have you had little interest or pleasure in doing things?
- Over the last 2 weeks, have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless?
- Over the last 2 weeks, have you felt nervous, anxious, or on edge?
- Over the last 2 weeks, have you not been able to stop or control worrying?
Someone who answers “yes” to either Question 1 or 2 (the PHQ-2) could benefit from speaking with a health professional about possible depression. Someone who answers “yes” to either Question 3 or 4 (the GAD-2) could benefit from speaking to a health professional about possible anxiety.
Many people change their excessive behavior patterns without entering treatment. Your First Step to Change is a collection of self-change toolkits for individuals who would like help making a change or want information about their own risky behavior. These toolkits were developed by the Division on Addiction and are available to the public, free of charge. These toolkits help people:
- Gain information about addiction-related problems.
- Evaluate their own addiction-related behavior.
- Develop change strategies, should they decide that change is the best course.
Your First Step to Change: 3rd Edition
The Division recently published the third print edition of Your First Step to Change. Download a PDF version of Your First Step to Change: 3rd Edition (below) or order free print copies from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Problem Gambling Services.
Your First Step to Change is freely available for printable download in English, as well as several other languages:
- Download English print version (3rd edition)
- Download Spanish print version (3rd edition)
- Download Chinese – Simplified print version (3rd edition)
- Download Chinese – Traditional print version (3rd edition)
- Download Vietnamese print version (3rd edition)
- Download Cambodian (Khmer) print version (1st edition)
e-Your First Step to Change
The Division on Addiction has created electronic versions of our self-change toolkits. It takes roughly 20 minutes to complete one of these toolkits. Participation is anonymous. We do not collect or store any identifying information from participating visitors. The toolkits temporarily keep track of your answers and allow you to print your results at any point. However, if you close or refresh your browser during a session, your answers will be erased. We hope that this first step will help you find the change that you are looking for.
The following electronic editions of Your First Step to Change are based on the 1st Edition:
- Your First Step To Change: Gambling
- Your First Step To Change: Drinking
- Your First Step to Change: Smoking
- Your First Step to Change: Marijuana
- Your First Step to Change: Shopping
Hotlines and helplines are available for individuals to speak with trusted professionals and get connected with local resources, support, and treatment. Below is a list of national hotlines and helplines. Visit the Division on Addiction’s website for a more comprehensive list.
- National Problem Gambling Helpline: Call or text (800) 522-4700 or chat online at ncpgambling.org/chat
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: Call (800) 662-HELP (4357)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or text START to 88788. Chat online at thehotline.org
- 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Call or text 988. Chat online at 988lifeline.org/chat
- National Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
- The Trevor Project: Call (866) 4-U-TREVOR (488-7386) or text START to 678678. Chat online at thetrevorproject.org/get-help
- National Runaway Safeline: Call (800) 786-2929 or chat online at 1800runaway.org
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender National Hotline: Call (888) 843-4564
Expressions of Addiction
Expressions of Addiction is an exhibit of original photographic portraits that depict people during various stages and expressions of addiction. Each portrait includes biographical information about each subject derived from in-person interviews. These photographs are part of an exhibition that helps the public better understand addiction by reaching hundreds of thousands through gallery exhibitions, television programming, and websites. Click here for more information.
What do you know about addiction? Test your knowledge with our free Kahoot! quizzes.
- Gambling and Gambling Disorder 101 – Take this 10-question quiz to test your knowledge of the basics of gambling and Gambling Disorder.
- Addiction Knowledge Bowl – This 16-question quiz covers the basics of addiction and adolescence. Share this quiz with teens to test their knowledge of addiction risk factors, how drugs and alcohol affect the developing brain, and more!
- Responsible Gambling – Test your knowledge of responsible gambling and low-risk gambling guidelines with this 15-question quiz.
The Division on Addiction’s Library
The Division on Addiction has produced more than 200 publications to date, including peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, reports, and books. We provide access to these and other materials, including academic posters, in our free online library.