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The development of an instrument to assess the severity of opiate dependence

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Author: John B. Saunders, Thiagarajan Sitharthan, David McGrath, David Cairns

Resource Type: Technical Reports

NDARC Technical Report No. 13 (1992)


This project set out to devise a brief instrument to measure severity of dependence on opiates. A comprehensive assessment instrument was created with items encompassing all the elements of the drug dependence syndrome. Included with these dependence syndrome measures were questions examining subject demographics, quantity and frequency of opiate use and risk taking behaviour. The assessment questionnaire was administered to 219 heroin users attending detoxification and rehabilitation centres in the Sydney metropolitan area.

Following data collection, a principal components analysis of putative dependence items was conducted which revealed two factors accounting for 27% of variance. These factors isolated the withdrawal and withdrawal relief items. A second stage af analysis was then undertaken in the form of a canonical correlation. This revealed 17 items that were strongly associated with dependence and these were included in a reliability analysis to determine the most representative items for the final scale. This instrument, the Measurement of Opiate Dependence scale ("MOODS") consisted of 25 questions and incorporated at least one measure for each element of the drug dependence syndrome (as defined by the DSM-III-R and ICD-10). There were no reinstatement measures in the final scale and the applicability of this element is discussed and ideas for future directions explored.