Adolescent Chemical Dependency Inventory

The Adolescent Chemical Dependency Inventory (ACDI) is designed for assessing troubled youth in school settings and in counseling or treatment programs. The ACDI is objective, straightforward and easily understood. Specific intervention, counseling and treatment recommendations are provided in ACDI reports. The ACDI has 105 items and takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete. It has five scales (measures): 1. Truthfulness Scale, 2. Adjustment Scale, 3. Distress Scale, 4. Alcohol Scale, and 5. Drugs Scale. The ACDI is a short, non-offensive self-report test that obtains a lot of important information quickly.


  • Juvenile assessment in school systems and troubled youth programs.

  • Intake screening in juvenile counseling and treatment programs.

  • Assist in identifying appropriate intervention, counseling or treatment alternatives.

  • Juvenile substance (alcohol and other drugs) abuse intake screening.


The ACDI has 105 items and takes on average 15 minutes to complete. It is an automated (computer scored) self-report test for juveniles’ (14 to 17 years) assessment. The ACDI screens substance (alcohol and other drugs) use and abuse, overall adjustment and troubled youth concerns.

ACDI Test Booklet

ACDI test booklets are provided free. These booklets contain 105 items and are written at a 5th to 6th grade reading level. If a person can read the newspaper, they can read the ACDI. It takes 15 minutes to complete the ACDI. These test booklets are available in English and Spanish.

ACDI Reports

In brief, ACDI reports summarize the youth’s self-reported history, explain what attained scale scores mean and offer specific score-related recommendations.

ACDI tests are administered, scored and reports are printed on-site. Within 2½ minutes from test data (answers) entry, automated (computer scored) 3 page reports are available on-site. These reports summarize a wealth of information in an easily understood format. For example, these reports include an ACDI profile (graph), which summarizes juvenile findings at a glance. Also included are explanations of what each score means and specific score-related recommendations. Significant items (direct admissions) are highlighted, and answers to the built-in interview (the last sequence of multiple choice items) are presented. Emphasis has been placed on having meaningful reports that are helpful and easily understood.

Advantages of Screening

Screening and assessment instruments filter out individuals with serious problems that may require referral for a more comprehensive evaluation and/or treatment. This filtering system works as follows.

Risk Category

Risk Range Percentile

Total Percentage

Low Risk

0 - 39%


Medium Risk

40 - 69%


Problem Risk

70 - 89%


Severe Problem

90 - 100%


Reference to the above Risk Range table shows that a problem is not identified until a scale score is at the 70th percentile or higher. These risk range percentiles are based upon the thousands of troubled youth that have taken the ACDI. This procedure is eminently fair, and it avoids both extremes, i.e., over-identification and under-identification of problems.

A court, department or agency policy might refer juveniles with severe problems for further evaluation or treatment. In that case, 11% of the people screened (Severe Problem) would be referred. In this example, 89% of the people screened would not be referred for additional (and expensive) services.

Budgetary savings (dollars) would be large with no compromises in needy juveniles receiving appropriate evaluation and/or treatment services. Indeed, more needy people would receive help. Without a screening program, there is usually more risk of over or under-utilization of additional professional services.

ACDI Database

The ACDI system contains a proprietary database. Earlier, it was noted that all ACDI used diskettes are returned to BDS, and the test data along with related demographics are downloaded into the ACDI database. This expanding database allows ongoing research and testing program summary capabilities that were not possible before. Ongoing research insures quality control. Test program summaries provide program self-evaluation.

Built-in Database

The built-in database permits ongoing research and annual program summary – at no additional cost. When the 25 or 50 tests on a diskette are used, that diskette is returned to BDS and downloaded into the ACDI database. Advantages of a built-in database are many and include database (research) analysis and the provision of annual summary reports. The ACDI is restandardized annually on a state-by-state basis at no additional cost to users.

In summary, having all used ACDI test data centrally filed at BDS’s offices in the ACDI database has many advantages. Database analysis permits ongoing cost efficient research that includes scale alpha coefficients, frequency distributions, correlations, ANOVA, cross-tab statistics along with reliability, validity and accuracy determinations.

Reliability and Validity

The ACDI has a built-in database that insures inclusion of all administered tests in a confidential (no names) manner. And, these reliability, validity and accuracy statistics are reported in the document titled “ACDI: An Inventory of Scientific Findings.” Database analysis continues to demonstrate that ACDI scales maintain very high reliability coefficients.

For example, internal consistencies (coefficient alpha) for ACDI scales are reported below for 1,042 juveniles screened in the year 2001.

ACDI Reliability (N=1,042, 2001)







Truthfulness Scale



Alcohol Scale



Drugs Scale



Adjustment Scale



Distress Scale



All ACDI scales have alpha coefficients well above the professionally accepted standard of .75 and are highly reliable. All coefficient alphas are significant at the p<.001 level.

Early validity studies used criterion measures and were validated with other tests, e.g., Minnesota Multphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) L and F Scales, 16PF, Treatment Intervention Inventory, MacAndrews, ACDI-Corrections Version II, Juvenile Profile, experienced staff ratings, etc. Much of this research is reported in the “ACDI: An Inventory of Scientific Findings” document.

Staff Member Input

Some people advocate fully automated assessment, BDS does not. The ACDI is to be used in conjunction with experienced staff judgment. Experienced evaluators should also interview the youth. For these reasons, the following statement is contained in each ACDI report: “ACDI reports are confidential and should be considered working hypotheses. No decision should be based solely upon ACDI results. ACDI results are to be used in conjunction with experienced staff judgment.”

Unique Features

Truthfulness Scale: Measures how truthful and open the juvenile was while completing the ACDI. This scale identifies denial, problem minimization and faking. Many troubled youth attempt to minimize their problems. A Truthfulness Scale is a necessary component in contemporary juvenile assessment. The ACDI Truthfulness Scale has been validated with other tests, truthfulness studies and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) L and F Scales. It consists of a number of items that most juveniles agree or disagree with. This important scale has been demonstrated to be reliable, valid and accurate. Much of this normative research is reported in the document titled “ACDI: An Inventory of Scientific Findings.”

Truth-Corrected scores have proven to be very important in enhancing assessment accuracy. This proprietary truth-correction program is comparable to the MMPI K-Scale correction methodology. The ACDI Truthfulness Scale has been correlated with the other four ACDI scales. The Truth-Correction equation converts raw scores to Truth-Corrected scores. Truth-Corrected scores are more accurate than raw scores. Raw scores reflect what the juvenile wants you to know. Truth-Corrected scores reveal what the juvenile is trying to hide.

Adjustment Scale: Measures the youth’s ability to adapt, conform and function. This scale recognizes personal and social stressors at home, school and in authority relationships. It incorporates personal and social forces involved in adapting to one’s environment.

Distress Scale: Measures the youth’s experienced pain, suffering, anxiety and depression. The blending of symptom clusters is clear in the definition of dysphoria, i.e., a generalized feeling of anxiety, restlessness and depression. Distress incorporates unhappiness, dissatisfaction, worry apprehension, etc. The Distress Scale also incorporates items symptomatic of anxiety and depression. Distress has broad applicability in adjustment, intervention, counseling and outcome.

More than just another alcohol or drug test. In addition to alcohol and drugs, the ACDI assesses other important areas of inquiry like truthfulness, violence (lethality), distress and adjustment. The ACDI is designed specifically for juvenile (male and female) assessment. It provides the information needed for understanding juvenile attitudes and behavior.

Reading Impaired Assessment: Reading impaired juvenile’s represent 20+ percent of youths tested. This represents a serious problem to many other juvenile tests. In contrast, BDS has developed a proprietary alternative for reading impaired assessment which is termed “human voice audio.”

Human Voice Audio (in English or Spanish) helps resolve many reading, along with cultural difference, issues. Passive vocabularies are often greater than active vocabularies. Hearing items read often helps reduce both cultural and communication problems. As discussed earlier, “human voice audio” test presentation requires a computer, earphones and simple instructions regarding how to operate the up-down arrow keys located on the computer keyboard. Without this “human voice” option, a juvenile screening program could be limited.

BDS encourages test users to delete juvenile names from diskettes before they are returned to BDS. This proprietary name deletion procedure involves a few keystrokes. Once juvenile names are deleted, they are gone and cannot be retrieved. Deleting juvenile names does not delete demographics or test data, which is downloaded into the ACDI database for subsequent analysis. This procedure insures juvenile confidentiality.

Test Data Input Verification: This proprietary program allows the person that inputs the test data from the answer sheet into the computer to verify the accuracy of their data input. In brief, test data is input twice and any inconsistencies between the first and second data entries are highlighted until corrected. When the first and second data entries match, or are the same, the staff person may continue. Use of this data entry verification procedure is optional, yet it is strongly recommended by BDS.

Delete Juvenile Names: The proprietary “delete names” program is activated by the test user with a few keystrokes to delete all juvenile names from diskettes before they are returned to BDS. Deleting all juvenile names insures protection of their confidentiality.

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