Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index (RAPI)

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Brief Description of Instrument


RAPI (18-item version)

RAPI (23-item version)

The original RAPI is a 23-item self-administered screening tool for assessing adolescent problem drinking. It was developed in order to create a conceptually sound, unidimensional, relatively brief, and easily administered instrument to assess problem drinking in adolescence. Factor analyses were conducted of test-retest data involving frequencies of a total of 53 symptoms and/or consequences of alcohol use as reported by a nonclinical sample of 1308 males and females aged 12 to 18 years at the initial test and 15 to 21 years at the retest. The resulting 23-item scale has a reliability of .92 and a 3-year stability coefficient of .40 for the total sample. The advantages of this short, self-administered screening tool lie in its ease of administration and its standardization which makes it possible to compare problem drinking scores across groups. Please note, however, that the RAPI is only a measure of adolescent drinking problems and additional information about intensity of use, motivations for use, and contexts of use is desirable when conducting a full assessment of problem drinking. A shorter version of the RAPI is now being used which contains 18 items (White & Labouvie, 2000). This version correlates .99 with the longer version. In addition, some researchers have modified the RAPI to assess drug problems (e.g., Johnson & White, 1995; Simons et al., 1998).

Authors: Helene Raskin White, Ph.D. and Erich Labouvie, Ph.D.

Using RAPI

Different things happen to people while they are drinking ALCOHOL or because of their ALCOHOL drinking. Several of these things are listed below.
Indicate how many times each of these things happened to you WITHIN THE LAST YEAR.

Use the following code:

0 = None
1 = 1-2 times
2 = 3-5 times
3 = More than 5 times


0 1 2 3 Not able to do your homework or study for a test
0 1 2 3 Got into fights with other people (friends, relatives, strangers)
0 1 2 3 Missed out on other things because you spent too much money on alcohol
0 1 2 3 Went to work or school high or drunk
0 1 2 3 Caused shame or embarrassment to someone
0 1 2 3 Neglected your responsibilities
0 1 2 3 Relatives avoided you
0 1 2 3 Felt that you needed more alcohol than you used to in order to get the same effect
0 1 2 3 Tried to control your drinking (tried to drink only at certain times of the day or in certain places, that is, tried to change your pattern of drinking)
0 1 2 3 Had withdrawal symptoms, that is, felt sick because you stopped or cut down on drinking
0 1 2 3 Noticed a change in your personality
0 1 2 3 Felt that you had a problem with alcohol
0 1 2 3 Missed a day (or part of a day) of school or work
0 1 2 3 Wanted to stop drinking but couldn't
0 1 2 3 Suddenly found yourself in a place that you could not remember getting to
0 1 2 3 Passed out or fainted suddenly
0 1 2 3 Had a fight, argument or bad feeling with a friend
0 1 2 3 Had a fight, argument or bad feeling with a family member
0 1 2 3 Kept drinking when you promised yourself not to
0 1 2 3 Felt you were going crazy
0 1 2 3 Had a bad time
0 1 2 3 Felt physically or psychologically dependent on alcohol
0 1 2 3 Was told by a friend, neighbor or relative to stop or cut down drinking

SCORING PROCEDURE FOR THE RAPI Simply add the numbers for each response together to form a total score. Mean Scores Currently Available:

Clinical Sample * N Mean
14–16 year old males 42 23.3
14–16 year old females 19 22.2
17–18 year old males 43 21.1
17–18 year old females 15 26
Nonclinical Sample * N Mean
14–16 year old males 151 7.5
14–16 year old females 147 5.9
17–18 year old males 211 8.2
17–18 year old females 208 7.4

*In both samples means are based upon users only (drank at least one drink in the last year)

Target Population

The RAPI is appropriate for use in clinical and nonclinical samples of adolescents and young adults. It has been validated on a clinical sample of male and female adolescents aged 14 to 18 years from a treatment program for youth with substance abuse problems and a household sample of 1308 male and female adolescents aged 12 to 21 years. The RAPI has also been used in numerous samples of college students and with young adults (White et al., 2005).


This 23-item self-administered paper and pencil instrument takes approximately 10 minutes (or less) to administer. Respondents simply circle the number that corresponds to the number of times they have experienced each problem. The items can be read by a 12-year old. There is no training required for the administrator. Items can also be read by an interviewer to respondents with reading difficulties.


The coded numbers (0-3) are added together across items to form a scale ranging from 0 to 69. It can be normed on any sample. In a clinical sample (age 14 to 18) means ranged from 21 to 25 and in a nonclinical sample (age 15 and 18) means ranged from 4 to 8 depending upon age and sex. (Please note in these analyses items were coded 0-3 with the last two categories combined.) The time frame for responses can be made smaller (e.g., last year or last 6 months rather than last 3 years). Some researchers dichotomous each item (0 times vs. 1+ times) and then count the number of problems experienced.

Psychometric Properties

It has face validity inasmuch as all items were selected from lists used by other experts in the field. It has good reliability (.8 or higher) in clinical and nonclinical samples (White et al., 1988). It can discriminate between drinking and problem drinking in adolescents. It has good convergent validity with the AAIS, ADS, DSM-III, DSM-III-R (r>.7 in a clinical sample). In addition, it has high test-retest reliability (Miller et al., 2002).

Role of Instrument in Management of Alcoholism

The RAPI can be used to assess the level of problem drinking among adolescents and young adults. It can also be part of a clinical interview in which the clinician addresses each problem related to drinking with the client and uses the results to discuss life disruptions due to drinking and denial of problems. Clinicians may find shorter time frames (e.g., last year or last 6 months) more useful than the last 3 years, which we used.

Research Applicability

The RAPI provides a brief, self-administered assessment of problem drinking. The total score can be used as an interval-level dependent or independent variable in studying predictors of consequences of problem drinking among youth. Scores can also be grouped for other forms of analysis. Time frames (e.g., last 3 years, last year, etc.) can be varied depending upon the research design.

Source, Cost, and Copyright Issues

The RAPI is available from: H. White, Center of Alcohol Studies, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854-0969 and can be downloaded from this website. It is free and there is no copyright. The authors request that persons who use the RAPI send them their age/sex forms as well as a description of their sample.


Miller, E.T., Neal, D.J., Roberts, L.J., Baer, J.S., Cressler, S.O., Metrick, J., & Marlatt, G.A.(2002). Test-retest reliability of alcohol measures: Is there a difference between internet-based assessment and traditional methods? Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 16, 56-63.

Johnson, V., & White, H.R. (1995). The relationship between work-specific and generalized stress and alcohol and marijuana use. Journal of Drug Issues, 25, 237-251.

Miller, E.T., Neal, D.J., Roberts, L.J., Baer, J.S., Cressler, S.O., Metrick, J., & Marlatt, G.A. (2002). Test-retest reliability of alcohol measures: Is there a difference between internet-based assessment and traditional methods? Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 16, 56-63.

Simons, J., Correia, C.J., Carey, K.B., & Borsari, B.E. (1998). Validating a five-factor marijuana motives measure: Relations with use, problems, and alcohol motives. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45, 265-273. 

White, H.R., Filstead, W.J., Labouvie, E.W., Conlin, J., & Pandina, R.J. (1988). Assessing alcohol problems in clinical and nonclinical adolescent populations. Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research, 12, 328. 

White, H.R. & Labouvie, E.W. (1989). Toward the assessment of adolescent problem drinking. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 50,30-37. 

White, H.R. & Labouvie, E.W. (2000). Longitudinal trends in problem drinking as measured by the Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 24, 76A. 

White, H. R., Labouvie, E. W., & Papadaratsakis, V. (2005). Changes in substance use during the transition to adulthood: A comparison of college students and their noncollege age peers. Journal of Drug Issues, 35, 281-305.