Young People's Drug Use Screening Tool (DUST)

Many young people will try drugs at some time, and most do not progress beyond experimentation. However, research indicates that many risk factors can increase the likelihood of a young person moving from drug use to drug misuse.

The Drug Use Screening Tool (DUST) is designed to help practitioners who do not have specialist drug knowledge to distinguish between 'drug use' and 'drug misuse', assess those risk factors and identify responses to meet the young person's needs:

Drug Use Screening Tool (DUST) (Interactive PDF document)

DUST is a voluntary screening assessment that the young person will need to be fully engaged with to meaningfully identify their needs and plan a response.

Anyone who encounters the young person can use the tool; Health professionals, Teachers, Social workers, Youth workers, Youth Offending workers etc.

Why use the DUST?

Using DUST will:

  • Improve consistency in assessment of substance misuse risk
  • Ensure there are consistent responses to substance misuse concern
  • Demonstrate a systematic and professional response to substance misuse needs

When to use the DUST

DUST screening can be used when you are concerned by a young person’s substance use:

  • Alongside any routine assessment, for example, the Social Work Assessment or at review.
  • At any time with a young person outside of routine assessment or review if required.

In addition, young people who are using substances, and young people with the following profiles may also be at risk of harm from substance misuse:

  • Those with parental/family history of substance misuse
  • Those who are/have been homeless
  • Those who have been previously/currently referred to CAMHS
  • Those who have been in a secure unit
  • Those who may have some evidence of physical change/ deterioration
  • Those who may raise suspicions of the workers with respect to a worsening of health and well being
  • Younger adolescents who have a history of behavioural problems

How to complete the DUST

We have created a short video explaining more about the DUST and how to complete it effectively:


DUST is voluntary and should be undertaken with the young person present. The tool should be explained to the young person, including what it is trying to achieve and how that will be achieved.

Explanations as to why you are conducting a screening may include:

  • Concern or worry about their substance use
  • Helping identify what may help reduce problems with their alcohol and/or drug use
  • Identifying how risky their use is

If the young person refuses to engage with the DUST screening this should be recorded in their case notes, along with the concerns that triggered the need for the screening. You may wish to consult with the young person's specialist treatment service to seek guidance on any information, advice or support that could be possible in this circumstance, which should also be recorded. Quite often it can take two or three attempts to engage a young person, so notes on all previous attempts to engage are helpful.

What happens next?

Once completed, the DUST should be sent to the Turning Point Young People’s Team via post or secure email:

Turning Point Young People's Service, Sanderson House, 17-19 Museum Street, Ipswich, IP1 1HE
Secure email address:

Once received, the DUST will be entered onto the Turning Point system and the young person will be allocated a Turning Point Youth Worker. The worker will contact the young person to arrange an assessment appointment and they will work together to agree the support need and interventions required and draw up a care plan. Turning Point will continue to work with the young person for as long as is required.

If once you have completed the DUST, it does not meet the threshold for accessing the Turning Point Youth service, you can still contact Turning Point who can advise on interventions you will be able to conduct with the young person yourself, and can send support materials to help you.

Contact the Turning Point Young People’s Team on 01473 220240 or email:

Turning Point Youth Service Leaflet

Further Information

Drug Use Screening Tool (DUST) (Interactive PDF Document)
Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Support (internal web page)
Turning Point Suffolk Wellbeing Cloud (External website)
The Source website – Information and support for Young People in Suffolk (External website)