The workshop, organised by the Ministry of Health’s Demand Reduction Unit and PAHO/WHO, had the objective of enhancing the skills of healthcare and associated workers at the primary healthcare level in utilising the ASSIST/DIT tool for screening purposes.

The ASSIST (Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test) is a screening tool developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for identifying individuals who may be at risk of developing substance use disorders (SUDs). The ASSIST tool is not to be confused with DIT (Dialogic Interaction Therapy), which is a different therapeutic approach.

The ASSIST tool is designed to assess an individual’s involvement with alcohol, tobacco, and other substances, such as illegal drugs and prescription medications. It helps healthcare professionals identify risky substance use patterns and provide appropriate brief interventions for those at risk of developing SUDs. The event outlined a series of questions associated with the use of the ASSIST tool. These questions inquire about the frequency and quantity of substance use, as well as the associated problems and consequences.

The event geared healthcare providers and clinicians with the know how to use the ASSIST as a part of their assessment process to:

  1. Identify individuals at risk: The tool helps in identifying people who may be using substances at a level that poses a risk to their health or well-being.

  2. Determine appropriate interventions: Based on the assessment results, healthcare professionals can provide brief interventions, education, or referrals to specialized treatment as needed.

  3. Monitor progress: The ASSIST can be used to track changes in substance use patterns over time to assess the effectiveness of interventions.

Facilitators emphasised that using a standardized screening tool like the ASSIST is important in healthcare settings to identify individuals who may need support to address substance use issues before they escalate into full-blown substance use disorders. It allows for early intervention and support in a clinical setting.