Protocol - Substances - 30-Day Frequency

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Measurement of respondent’s 30-day frequency of use of drugs.

Specific Instructions

The Working Group acknowledges that the following question may gather sensitive information relating to the use of substances or illegal conduct. If the information is released, it might be damaging to an individual’s employability, lead to social stigmatization, or result in other consequences.

For information on obtaining a Certificate of Confidentiality, which helps researchers protect the privacy of human research participants, please go to the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Institutional Review Board website.

Respondents are asked the 30-day frequency question only if they answered "yes" to a drug in the Substances - Lifetime Use measure. For example, if a respondent said he or she had ever used marijuana, he or she will be asked the 30-day question for marijuana. Investigators should refer back to the substance(s) indicated in the Substances - Lifetime Use measure when asking the below question. The drug categories are provided below:

  1. Sedatives or tranquilizers
  2. Painkillers
  3. Marijuana
  4. Cocaine or crack
  5. Stimulants
  6. Club drugs
  7. Hallucinogens
  8. Inhalants or solvents
  9. Heroin
  10. OTHER

Respondents can refer to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III (NESARC-III) flashcard that provides examples of each.



1 Sedatives or tranquilizers, for example…barbs, downers, Ambien, Lunesta, phenobarbital, pentobarbital, Halcion, Tuinal, Nembutal, Seconal, Librium, Valium, Xanax, benzodiazepines, tranks, Ativan.

2 Painkillers, for example…methadone, codeine, Demerol, Vicodin, OxyContin, opium, oxy, Percocet, Dilaudid, Percodan, morphine

3 Marijuana, including THC, for example…weed, pot, dope, hashish, Mary Jane, joint, blunt

4 Cocaine or crack, for example…blow, rock, snow

5 Stimulants, for example…Adderall, Concerta, Cylert, Provigil, Ritalin or Dexedrine, speed, amphetamine, methamphetamine, uppers, bennies, pep pills, crystal, crank

6 Club drugs, for example…MDMA, ecstasy, GHB, Rohypnol, ketamine, Special K, XTC, roofies

7 Hallucinogens, for example…LSD, acid, PCP, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, mushrooms, angel dust, cactus

8 Inhalants or solvents, for example…nitrous oxide, lighter fluid, gasoline, cleaning fluid, glue, poppers, whippets

9 Heroin, for example…smack, black tar, poppy

10 Any OTHER medicines



  1. Think specifically about the past 30 days, from [DATEFILL**] up to and including today. During the past 30 days, on how many days did you use…?

# OF DAYS: _________ [RANGE: 0-30]

[ ] DK/REF


Personnel and Training Required

Interviewer must be trained and found competent to conduct personal interviews with individuals from the general population. The interviewer should be trained to prompt respondents further if a "don’t know" response is provided.

Equipment Needs

While the source instrument was developed for administration by computer, the PhenX Expert Review Panel acknowledges that these questions can be administered in a noncomputerized format.

Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Self-administered questionnaire




18 years of age or older

Selection Rationale

The protocol from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) was chosen because it is a large nationally representative study. The measures from this survey have been validated and psychometrically tested.


English, Other languages available at source

caDSR Form PhenX PX031302 - Substances 30day Frequency 6910301 caDSR Form
Derived Variables


Process and Review

The Expert Review Panel #3 (ERP 3) reviewed the measures in Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Substances, and Substance Abuse and Addiction domains.

Guidance from ERP 3 includes:

Updated version of protocol available.

• Updated protocol

• New Data Dictionary

Back-compatible: Partially back-compatible (updated/similar protocol which would require some changes to the data dictionary), variable mapping between current and previous protocols can be found here.

Previous version in Toolkit archive (link)

Protocol Name from Source

National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 2015


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015, February). National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 2015. Rockville, MD: Author. CAI Specifications for Programming, English Version.

General References


Protocol ID


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX031302010100 Think specifically about the past 30 days, more
from [DATEFILL**] up to and including today. During the past 30 days, on how many days did you use...? show less
Variable Mapping
PX031302010200 Think specifically about the past 30 days, more
from [DATEFILL**] up to and including today. During the past 30 days, on how many days did you use...? show less
Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Substances
Measure Name

Substances - 30-Day Frequency

Release Date

November 21, 2016


Questions asking the respondent how many days in the past 30 days he or she used a drug.


This measure can be used to assess the participant’s recent consumption of a substance. The potential of recall bias can be reduced by assessing the respondent’s recent use.


Drugs, substance use, illicit substances, cannabis, marijuana, THC, hashish, LSD, acid, PCP, angel dust, phencyclidine, peyote, mescaline, psilocybin, ecstasy, MDMA, sedative, tranquilizer, pain reliever, stimulant, prescription drug, cocaine, crack cocaine, hallucinogen, inhalant, solvent, heroin, methamphetamine, substance abuse and addiction, SAA, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, NSDUH, gerontology, aging, geriatrics

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
31302 Substances - 30-Day Frequency

Sarfan, L. D., et al. (2023) The Transdiagnostic Intervention for Sleep and Circadian Dysfunction (TranS-C) for serious mental illness in community mental health part 1: study protocol for a hybrid type 2 effectiveness-implementation cluster-randomized trial. Trials. 2023 March; 24(1): 198. doi: 10.1186/s13063-023-07148-9

Phillips, K. A., et al. (2017) Current drug users and women have higher rates of risky sexual behaviors. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2017 February; 171: e165-e166. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.08.455

Pattaro, C., et al. (2015) The Cooperative Health Research in South Tyrol (CHRIS) study: rationale, objectives, and preliminary results. J Transl Med. 2015 November; 13: 348. doi: 10.1186/s12967-015-0704-9