Instrument: Timeline Followback Method Assessment


The Timeline Followback (TLFB) is a method that can be used as a clinical and research tool to obtain a variety of quantitative estimates of marijuana, cigarette, and other drug use.

The TLFB can be administered by an interviewer, self-administered, or administered by computer. It involves asking clients to retrospectively estimate their drug, marijuana or cigarette use 7 days to 2 years prior to the interview date.

Quantitative estimates and drug use-consumption variables can be used to measure change in drug, marijuana, and cigarette use levels in outcome monitoring and evaluation studies. In several studies, data obtained with a method like the TLFB have been sensitive to changes in drug and marijuana use.

The TLFB can be used in clinical settings as a motivational advice feedback tool to analyze clients’ marijuana, cigarette, and other drug use and to increase their motivation to change.

The TimeLine Follow-Back method was developed by Linda Sobell and published in 1996. The TLFB method is published by Linda Sobell, Nova Southeastern University, Florida ( The TLFB assessment forms are copyrighted but can be downloaded and used without charge with appropriately acknowledgment that the forms and programs are copyrighted.

Instrument Usage: 
Clinical Research

Source: Sobell LC, Sobell M (1996). Timeline Followback Method (Drugs, Cigarettes, and Marijuana).

Sobell LC, Sobell MB, Buchan G, Cleland PA, Fedoroff I, Leo GI (1996). The reliability of the Timeline Followback method applied to drug, cigarette, and cannabis use. Paper presented at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy, New York, NY, November 1996.

Robinson SM, Sobell LC, Sobell MB, Leo GI (2012). Reliability of the Timeline Followback for Cocaine, Cannabis, and Cigarette Use. Psychol Addict Behav. 2012 Dec 31, Advance online publication, doi: 10.1037/a0030992

Sample Form: 
PDF icon TimeLineFollowBack_2014Mar24.pdf135.54 KB
ModuleModule ID
Timeline Followback Method Assessment3703212