Screening and brief intervention tools

Alcohol and other drug screening tools are typically used to identify people with apparent drug problems. The screen can indicate the severity of those difficulties and point to a need for further assessment or facilitate referral to professional treatment services.

Screening can serve a less clinical purpose aimed at identifying concerns people may have in regard to their substance use. It invites a conversation with them around what they might do to alleviate those concerns. How can they manage their use in ways that enhance their well-being, maximizing benefits and minimizing risk for harm? When encouraged in their own agency, people will often make positive changes without the need for more intensive, extensive and expensive healthcare services. (At any point in a screening/self-exploration exercise, participants may be helped to seek or access professional services should they desire them.)

Individuals can use self-administered screening tools to assess their own alcohol or other drug use. Personnel in various settings can offer screening as a "doorway to conversation" with students, patients, clients or community members.

Reality check

View our reality check info card.

Cannabis Reality Check: Use these paper-based resources to reflect on your own use or to engage others in conversation about their use. This screen, which takes into account Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, can be used by people of all ages.

Substance use and harms screen

This screen is designed for young people (up to age 24) who are using alcohol or other drugs. Rather than focusing on the use, it provides an opportunity to reflect on the potential impact of that use.

Art of motivation

This resource was designed to help school professionals engage in meaningful conversations with young people about their alcohol or other drug use. It applies the principles of motivational interviewing and incorporates screening as one tool among many that the professional (or any caring adult) can use to promote dialogue, reflection and action.

AME (awareness, motivation, engagement)

This resource for youth probation officers uses the principles of motivational interviewing to help correctional staff encourage positive behaviour change. Screening and other tools are offered as "doorways to conversation" rather than as assessment and accountability mechanisms. Reviews of the program have provided positive results.