Saturday, September 17, 2011

The RAPS4 Rapid Screening Test


The hallmark of addictive behavior is denial. However, every addict has insight into his or her problem at a subconscious level. There are periodic moments of clarity and honesty during which they may open out to others, or seek help for themselves. These moments are few and far between, and often very brief.

One of the most effective short tests to diagnose an addiction problem is the RAPS4 test, a test made up of four questions pertaining to remorse (R), amnesia (A), performance (P), and starter drinking behavior (S), with regard to the persons drinking or drug use over the last 12 months.

Initially the Rapid Alcohol Problems Screen (RAPS) was a five item test, but was later refined into its present form. It uses questions taken from other diagnostic tools to create a comprehensive and accurate screening test. The questions apply equally effectively to all addictive substances.

An yes to any one question is an indication of an addictive process that needs to be addressed urgently.


If you have questions about your own or a loved one's behavior, apply this short test and determine whether intervention is needed.

1. Have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?

2. Has a friend or a family member ever told you about things you said or did while you were drinking that you could not remember?

3. Have you failed to do what was normally expected of you because of drinking?

4. Do you sometimes take a drink when you first get up in the morning?


Source: Drugdetox

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST)

There are several self administered diagnostic tools that are available to determine whether your behavior falls into the category of addiction or dependence. The Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test is one that has stood the test of time. Though it addresses alcohol addiction, it can be adapted to almost any type of addiction by replacing the references to alcohol and drinking with the other type of addictive process.

The MAST Test
The MAST Test is a simple, self-scoring test that helps assess if you have a drinking problem. Answer yes or no to the following questions:
1. Do you feel you are a normal drinker? ("normal" is defined as drinking as much or less than most other people)
___ Yes ___ No
2. Have you ever awakened the morning after drinking the night before and found that you could not remember a part of the evening?
___ Yes ___ No
3. Does any near relative or close friend ever worry or complain about your drinking?
___ Yes ___ No
4. Can you stop drinking without difficulty after one or two drinks?
___ Yes ___ No
5. Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking?
___ Yes ___ No
6. Have you ever attended a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?
___ Yes ___ No
7. Have you ever gotten into physical fights when drinking?
___ Yes ___ No
8. Has drinking ever created problems between you and a near relative or close friend?
___ Yes ___ No
9. Has any family member or close friend gone to anyone for help about your drinking?
___ Yes ___ No
10. Have you ever lost friends because of your drinking?
___ Yes ___ No
11. Have you ever gotten into trouble at work because of drinking?
___ Yes ___ No
12. Have you ever lost a job because of drinking?
___ Yes ___ No
13. Have you ever neglected your obligations, family, or work for two or more days in a row because you were drinking?
___ Yes ___ No
14. Do you drink before noon fairly often?
___ Yes ___ No
15. Have you ever been told you have liver trouble, such as cirrhosis?
___ Yes ___ No
16. After heavy drinking, have you ever had delirium tremens (DTs), severe shaking, visual or auditory (hearing) hallucinations?
___ Yes ___ No
17. Have you ever gone to anyone for help about your drinking?
___ Yes ___ No
18. Have you ever been hospitalized because of drinking?
___ Yes ___ No
19. Has your drinking ever resulted in your being hospitalized in a psychiatric ward?
___ Yes ___ No
20. Have you ever gone to any doctor, social worker, clergyman, or mental health clinic for help with any emotional problem in which drinking was part of the problem?
___ Yes ___ No
21. Have you been arrested more than once for driving under the influence of alcohol?
___ Yes ___ No
22. Have you ever been arrested, or detained by an official for a few hours, because of other behavior while drinking?
___ Yes ___ No
Scoring the MAST Test
Score one point if you answered "no" to the following questions: 1 or 4. Score one point if you answered "yes" to the following questions: 2, 3, 5 through 22. A total score of six or more indicates hazardous drinking or alcohol dependence.

This test can help you come to a decision to seek professional help. Keep in mind that a large number of so called professionals in the field of addiction treatment, especially in countries with poor regulation of mental health care services, are often recovering people who choose to set up therapeutic communities or treatment facilities either because they are unemployable otherwise or because they find it difficult to stay sober in or fit into mainstream social life and might have unresolved treatment issues themselves.

Familiarize yourself with the credentials and track record of any addiction professional you may want to go to for help. In India, you can direct your queries regarding the credentials of addiction professionals to the International Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification Trust For India.

Source: NCADD

Friday, September 9, 2011

National Recovery Month

In 1989, the US government decided to observe September as Treatment Works Month in an effort to recognize and encourage the work being done in the field of addiction treatment. In 1998, this was officially changed to National Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. With the growing realization that substance abuse and mental disorders had much in common, September this year is being observed as Recovery Month, a month that promotes the societal benefits of treatment for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible.

In India, however, both mental disorders and addiction continue to be largely seen in poor light, in spite of government initiatives and the growing community of able treatment professionals. The tragedy lies not only in the fact that society misunderstands the challenges faced by those afflicted by these conditions, but also that these poor understanding permits a large number of people and organizations to market treatment that is inhuman, unethical, and outright harmful. For a population already grappling a life-threatening and debilitating mental condition, this is a double whammy. In spite of governmental regulations specifying that only certified and qualified professionals will be allowed into this field, these organizations are often run by addicts themselves, with their own unresolved treatment issues that manifest themselves in ways that are damaging to the therapeutic communities that they set up.

Given the trauma that active addiction imposes on the addict and those in the addicts lives, these practices are often overlooked as they offer temporary respite from the pain of active addiction. The long term damage to the addict's psyche, the reduced probability of long term recovery, and the permanently destroyed fabric of trust and relationships are marketed by these organizations as reasonable price for this respite. Typically, these organizations take refuge behind religious beliefs, fearful superstition and the threat of things getting worse if the families do not comply to get away with this mode of functioning. A sad comment on our times, indeed.