Alcohol and Substance Use

Created on: 
Oct 21 2014

Revised December 30, 2013


Provide a basic overview of alcohol/substance abuse system and guidelines to assist in determining if a client is in need of alcohol or substance abuse treatment.


The department recognizes that identification and treatment of alcohol and substance abuse issues are of paramount importance in assisting clients to attain self-sufficiency. The Division of Behavioral Health and Recover (DBHR) contracts with local treatment centers which provide alcohol and substance abuse evaluations and treatment.

Evaluation and treatment services are provided for clients receiving services under the following programs:     

  • WorkFirst;
  • ABD cash assistance;
  • HEN Referral; and 
  • Medicaid.

Under certain circumstances, other persons in low-income status may also receive evaluation and treatment services.

Alcohol dependency and chemical dependency are addictive diseases that include the following four symptoms:

  • Craving: A strong need or urge to use alcohol or other substances
  • Loss of Control: Not being able to stop drinking or using once the drinking or use has begun
  • Physical Dependence: Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, or anxiety
  • Tolerance: The need to drink or use greater amounts of alcohol or other substances to achieve the effects.

Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Alcohol or substance abuse can be just as harmful as an addiction or dependency. Some of the problems associate with alcohol and substance abuse include:

  • The inability to fulfill work, school, or family obligations;
  • Involvement in legal issues such as drunk driving arrests or violence;
  • Increased social and inter-personal problems, including family violence, child neglect and abuse;
  • Increased occurrence of accidents; and,
  • Health concerns, such as harm caused by the use of alcohol or substances during pregnancy, and increases in the risk of other medical disorders.

Worker Responsibilities

WorkFirst Clients

All WorkFirst applicants are screened using the Alcohol / Substance Abuse Screening Tool in e-JAS. If the alcohol / substance abuse screening indicates the likelihood of abuse use the e-JAS alcohol / substance abuse evaluation to determine if you should refer the client to the local Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor for a full assessment.

More information is in the WorkFirst Handbook - 6.7 Resolving Issues - Substance Abuse.

ABD/HEN Referral/PWA

Recipients are required to complete an assessment if there is an indication of substance abuse or chemical dependency. If assessed as in need of treatment, the recipient must follow through with all recommended treatment activities as a condition of eligibility.