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Simple Screening Tool for Possible Alcohol or Substance Abuse Problems

There are times when One-Stop staff may see indications that a customer may have an alcohol or substance abuse problem. One-Stop staff are not intended to be diagnosticians; however, the following simple screening tool can assist One-Stop staff in determining the possible presence of alcohol or substance abuse.

  • This information should obviously be collected discreetly and in a way that respects the individuals right to privacy. Also, to the extent possible, the information should be based on direct information from the person seeking assistance as well as the direct observation of staff.
  • Please be aware that saying yes to any of these items, even in combination, does not necessarily indicate that an individual has an alcohol or substance abuse problem. However, if the customer answers yes to most of the items (no to item 12), and experiences these difficulties to such a degree that they cause problems in employment, education, and/or daily living, it might be a sign that the person could benefit from further specialized assessment from a qualified professional. Vocational Rehabilitation (a One-Stop partner), the state or county mental health agency, local mental health center, or other disability organization should be able to assist in obtaining such an assessment (see list of mental health resources at the end of this manual).
  • A specialized assessment from a qualified professional will help the One-Stop determine how best to support the individuals employment and training goals, and help the individual obtain additional support services. Such an assessment cannot and should not be used to exclude the individual from One-Stop services.

Within the last six months:

  • Has the person ever used alcohol or other drugs?
  • Has the person ever felt that [s]he uses too much alcohol and drugs?
  • Has the person tried to quit drinking or using drugs?
  • Has the person had to get some kind of help due to problems associated with alcohol or other drugs?

Has drinking or using other drugs ever caused problems for the person in one or more of the following areas?

  • Work
  • Family
  • Friendships?
  • School
  • Has the person ever gotten into a fight or argument while drinking?
  • Has the person ever come in with the smell of alcohol on his/her breath?

Has the person ever had one or more of the following?

  • Blackouts or memory loss
  • Convulsions or DTs
  • Hepatitis or liver problems
  • Used needles to shoot drugs
  • Does the person spend time thinking about getting alcohol or drugs?
  • Does the person feel bad or guilty about his/her alcohol or drug use?
  • Has the person ever driven under the influence of alcohol or other drugs?
  • Has the person had periods of one week or more of not using alcohol or any other drugs?

For more information, contact:
Joe Marrone, ICI
4517 NE 39th Ave.
Portland, OR 97211-8124
Phone: 503-331-0687

This instrument shown above is based in most part on a standardized instrument for substance abuse assessment called the SASSI. The actual tool shown was developed for the Welfare to Work program of the Columbia River Mental Health Services, Inc. in Vancouver, WA.

Written by:

Joe Marrone