WorkFirst HandBook

Resolving Issues

6.7 Substance Abuse

Legal References:

The Substance Abuse section includes:

6.7.1 What is substance abuse?

Substance abuse is the misuse or overuse of a legal or illegal chemical or substance, including alcohol, in a way that is different from the way it is generally used medically or socially.

Abuse either creates disruption or problems for the user or complicates an existing problem in the individual's life. It does not matter whether the person is abusing the substance by choice, or abusing as part of an addictive pattern. Eventually, substance abuse will impact the person physically, behaviorally, socially, occupationally, or in other ways and often leads to chemical dependency.

6.7.2 What is Chemical Dependency?

Chemical dependency occurs when the person's abuse of alcohol, chemicals, or other substances progresses to physical and/or psychological dependence. Chemical dependency means the person is addicted to the substance. Addiction is the loss of control and compulsive use of a mood or mind altering chemical along with the inability to stop the use in spite of the fact that such use is causing problems in their life.

6.7.3 Who does the substance abuse assessment?

Substance Abuse Assessments must be completed by a Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP) to determine:

6.7.4 Who is financially eligible for substance abuse treatment?

Persons who are eligible for WorkFirst and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) likely qualify for Washington Apple Health

WorkFirst clients do not need to be referred by an ADATSA assessment agency to receive treatment. They can receive assessment and treatment services from any DASA treatment agency contracted to provide services to WorkFirst clients.

WorkFirst parents without Washington Apple Health due to citizenship verification requirements who need chemical dependency treatment may be able to access ADATSA (W02) services. Please refer to section 6.3.5 How do we treat parents with medial issues who do not have Washington Apple Health?

Require persons to apply for Washington Apple Health in his or her IRP if they don’t currently have coverage or have let their coverage lapse so they can access any needed chemical dependency assessment or treatment.  Failure to apply for Washington Apple Health without good cause will result in sanction (See WAH Application IRP for suggested IRP language).



6.7.5 Who are priority populations?

Priority populations are pregnant women, injecting drug users, WorkFirst families (parents with dependent children), and youth.

Consider a referral for a substance abuse assessment when there is.
Some conditions are so severe that a person should be concentrating solely on getting medical treatment.
A history of unfinished substance abuse treatment.
Behavior consistent with being under the influence of excessive drug/alcohol use, such as:
  • Slurred speech,
  • An odor of alcohol,
  • Balance problems, or
  • Skin lesions indicative of drug use.
Individuals self-reporting that drug or alcohol use caused:
  • Job loss or a refusal of employment
  • Legal problems (possession, theft, assault, domestic violence, resisting arrest, or child abuse or neglect).
  • Arrest for driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Fights or arguments
  • Emergency room visits or hospitalizations
  • Needing help, seeking help in the past or getting help in the past
  • Being told by friends or family members that she or he drinks alcohol or uses drugs too much
  • Blackouts (not remembering things that one has said or done while drinking or using other drugs).
6.7.6 What are the requirements for Modality of Care?

Admission to modality of care is determined based on the American Society for Addiction Medicine patient placement criteria.

What are the different Treatment Modalities?
1. Detoxification Services
2. Intensive Inpatient/Residential Treatment

Provides up to 30 days of a concentrated short-term program of:

3. Recovery House/Residential Treatment

Provides up to 60 days of care and treatment with social, vocational, and recreational activities to aid in patient adjustment to abstinence and to aid in job training, employment, or other types of community activities. Treatment includes individual and group counseling by a CDP.

4. Long-term Inpatient/Residential Treatment

Provides up to 180 days of care and treatment to chronically impaired alcoholics/addicts who have personal-care capabilities. Treatment includes:

5. Outpatient Treatment

Programs of care include individual and group treatment services of varying duration and intensity according to a prescribe Treatment Plan and education directed at relapse prevention, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B & C, and sexually transmitted diseases.

6.7.8 Are there other specialized programs and services administered by the Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse?

The Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA) also administer Pregnant and Parenting Women's (PPW) programs, such as Safe Babies Safe Moms (SBSM) and Parent Child Assistance Program (PCAP), and treatment for Opiate dependence.

PPW programs address specialized needs associated with substance abuse/chemical dependency for pregnant and parenting women, including:

Safe Babies/Safe Moms Program:

Parent Child Assistance Program:

Opiate Dependency

6.7.9 Confidentiality

Federal law prohibits the disclosure of personal information relating to alcohol and/or drug use, with criminal and civil penalties applied for unauthorized disclosure. This means:

Be particularly thorough in the completion of the form if you are requesting an exchange of information regarding a client either:

The form must be very specific as to the purpose of the release and to whom the information is to be shared. If the forms are not completed thoroughly and correctly, the treatment agency cannot give any information and you may not share information.

Information stored in eJAS Special Records Chemical Dependency notes is highly restricted and protected. Enter all substance abuse assessment and treatment information on the Chemical Dependency Special Records screen in eJAS notes. Do not document information about substance abuse assessment or treatment in less protected areas of eJAS.

When adding the requirement to follow through with a substance abuse assessment and any treatment requirements on the individual's IRP, the WFPS or WFSSS needs to add the requirements to the Special Records IRP available in eJAS.

6.7.10 eJAS Codes

For tracking purposes, it is very important to always enter the following appropriate eJAS code when an individual is referred for a substance abuse assessment and when an individual enters treatment.

Use the following appropriate eJAS code when an individual is referred for a substance abuse assessment or when an individual enters treatment: SR - Referred for substance abuse ASSESSMENT

6.7.11 Substance Abuse - Step-by-step guide
  1. The WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) or WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) suspects there is a substance abuse problem and:
    • Refers the individual to a -Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR)contracted treatment agency using the DSHS 14-299, DASA Adult Assessment Referral Form (flag the referral as a WorkFirst/TANF referral).
    • Uses local procedures to schedule the appointment.
    • Enters SR (substance abuse referral code) in eJAS.
    • Documents in eJAS Chemical Dependency note type and creates an IRP using the Special Records IRP available in eJAS.
    • Gives the parent or sends the provider a copy of the eJAS WorkFirst Participation Verification form
  2. If an Employment Security Department (ESD) counselor or community college employee observes signs and/or symptoms that indicate substance abuse may be impairing an individual's ability to look for work, the JSS will refer the individual to the WFPS or WFSSS and document in eJAS.
  3. The treatment agency completes the assessment, and
  4. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment providers will use the the DSHS 04-432, Treatment Plan and Change Report form for treatment plan purposes only. The eJAS WorkFirst Participation Verification form (see 3.9.2), which will either sent to the provider, will be used to verify the individual's actual hours of participation in treatment activities including AA meetings etc.
    • Providers will use the DSHS 04-432, Treatment Plan and Change Report form for reporting:
      • The treatment plan established for the individual.
      • Failure to participate.
      • Referral to another provider.
      • Changes in the treatment provided.
      • Discharge from treatment.
      • Child care needs (when in-house child care is not provided by the facility)
  5. Both Parent Child Assistance Program (PCAP) and Safe Babies Safe  Moms (SBSM) providers will also use the eJAS WorkFirst Participation Verification form to report and verify the individual's actual hours of participation in PCAP and SBSM activities.
  6. The WFPS or WFSSS:
    • Opens XE in eJAS once the individual enters treatment. Enter substance abuse information in the Special Records under the category Chemical Dependency in eJAS notes.
    • Provide support services, as needed.
    • Add other activities to the IRP when the individual is ready, in consultation with the treatment provider.
  7. If the WFPS or WFSSS finds out that a individual is already in treatment, she or he:
    • Does nothing, if treatment does not interfere with other required WorkFirst activities.
    • Sends a DSHS 17-063 Authorization to Release Information form, a letter of referral and a copy of the individual's IRP to the treatment provider to coordinate treatment with WorkFirst requirements.
  8. Establish communication with treatment staff to discuss the individual's full course of treatment. Convene a case staffing to discuss an individual's situation. Treatment plans established by CDPs may include ancillary activities outside of the treatment agency (i.e. AA meetings, anger management counseling, etc.)
Relapse During Recovery:

It is not uncommon for individuals to relapse during treatment, especially during the early stages of recovery. Relapses, within themselves, should not be considered as non-compliance. Therefore, individuals should not be sanctioned or have treatment services denied just because there was a relapse.


Without good cause, failure to have a substance abuse assessment or attend treatment when the need has been identified may be considered non-compliance. Work closely with the CDP to ensure the treatment plan is being following. Case staffings involving the individual and the CDP are strongly recommended. Individuals are much more likely to be successful in their recovery if they have support of others including the WFPS and WFSSS.


Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections