February 23, 2007
NIDA Director, Dr. Nora D. Volkow

I am pleased to introduce NIDAMED. NIDA's new initiative to provide the medical community with drug abuse-related resources to enhance patient care. Designed with the demands of modern clinical practice in mind, these research-based, drug-use screening tools and resources are intended to help you screen patients efficiently and conduct the followup steps necessary to provide the best in medical care.

The importance of screening your patients for drug use cannot be underestimated:

  • Drug use can have many adverse consequences. Drug abuse can cause or exacerbate numerous health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, anxiety, and depression, as well as financial difficulties and legal, work, and family problems.
  • The use of illicit drugs is more common than you might think. In 2007, roughly 20 million Americans aged 12 or older (8 percent of the population) were current illicit drug users, with nearly one in five 18 to 25-year-olds reporting past-month illicit drug use.
  • Only a fraction of individuals who need specialty addiction treatment receive it each year. In 2007, of the more than 23 million persons aged 12 or older who needed specialized treatment for drug or alcohol problems, almost 21 million did not receive it.

As clinicians, you are in a unique position to identify patient drug use early and prevent it from escalating to abuse or addiction and from adversely affecting your patients health.

Please take the opportunity to learn more about these tools and how they can be used in your practice by visiting www.drugabuse.gov/nidamed/screening-tobacco-alcohol-other-drug-use. All of our materials are free of charge. We look forward to working with you to help your patients live healthfully.


Nora D. Volkow, M.D.

What are the resources?

At the heart of the NIDAMED initiative are an online screening tool, a companion quick reference guide, and an online resource guide.

Online Clinician's Screening Tool, Screening Tool Quick Reference Guide, Online Clinician's Resource Guide and Patient Postcard

Clinician's Screening Tool (NIDA-Modified Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test, or ASSIST.) This Web-based interactive tool guides clinicians through a short series of screening questions and, based on the patients responses, generates a substance involvement score that suggests the level of intervention needed. The tool also provides links to resources for conducting a brief intervention and treatment referral, if warranted.

Screening Tool Quick Reference Guide This abbreviated guide provides a snapshot of the online screening tool and serves as a handy resource for clinicians when they are away from their computers. Designed to fit in a coat pocket, this guide provides an abbreviated version of the tool and instructions on its use. (Order NIH Pub Number 09-7384)

Clinicians Resource Guide This online resource guide supplements the NIDA-Modified ASSIST and provides more detailed instructions to clinicians on how to use the screening tool, discuss screening results, offer brief interventions, and make necessary referrals. The guide also includes information on how to conduct biological specimen screening, access training materials, and locate substance abuse treatment.

Patient Postcard A complement to the physician screening materials, this postcard is designed to encourage patients to discuss any and all drug use with their doctors to help ensure proper medical care. We encourage you to place the postcards in your waiting room. (Order NIDACRD26)

To order additional free copies of the postcard or quick reference guide, visit www.drugabuse.gov/nidamed/screening-tobacco-alcohol-other-drug-use or call (toll-free) 1-877-NIDA-NIH (1-877-643-2644).