Purpose & Evidence:

  • Purpose: The Addiction Behaviors Checklist (ABC) screens for characteristic addictive behaviors in chronic pain patients that are prescribed opioid medications. It tracks past and present behaviors to assess inappropriate opioid use.
  • Target population: Adults
  • Evidence:
    • Psychometric findings support the ABC as a viable assessment tool that can increase a provider's confidence in determinations of appropriate vs. inappropriate opioid use (Wu et al. 2006)
    • The ABC shows strong interrater correlations, reliability and concurrent validity (Wu et al. 2006)
  • Advantages/Limitations


    • Developed specifically for ongoing clinical assessment of chronic pain patients on prescription opioid therapy
    • Concise, easy to complete, and useful in a busy clinical setting


    • More validation data and research is needed in settings outside of the VA Medical Center, such as primary care (Wu et al. 2006)

Test features

  • Estimated time: about 10 minutes to administer and score
  • Length: 20 item checklist- includes some self report but it is primarily a clinician observed checklist that tracks behaviors. Behaviors that are tracked in the ABC screening tool were supported in a report from the APS, ASAM, & AAPM (Wu et al. 2006).
  • Administered by: Patient Interview
  • Intended settings: Primary Care
  • Scoring and interpretation: A patient's score is based on three components: the patient's explicit answers, physician observations during the interview, and relevant information from the patient's chart. Using a cutoff score of 3 or more, the ABC showed a high sensitivity and specificity when used for screening individuals at an initial office visit (Wu et al. 2006).

Available Formats & Links:

View ReferencesHide References
Wu SM, Compton P, Bolus R, et al. The Addiction Behaviors Checklist: validation of a new clinician-based measure of inappropriate opioid use in chronic pain. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2006; 32: 342-351. Available at: Accessed on: 2013-09-12.