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Open the Door to SBIRT

SBIRT or Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment is a strategy that delivers. Used in primary healthcare settings, emergency rooms, and trauma centers, SBIRT acts like a wake-up call to individuals/patients. Sometimes, that’s all that’s needed.

Healthcare practitioners ask patients questions about their substance use (Screening) as part of a standard intake; provide advice on the impact of drinking and drugging (Brief Intervention); and refer patients to specialized treatment (Referral to Treatment) if needed – sounds pretty simple, but the results can be profound! It’s mentioned here because the student health center, counseling center, and local hospitals may be using SBIRT to screen for alcoholism and other substance use disorders.

What makes SBIRT unique?

  • Screenings are brief, lasting no more than 5-10 minutes.
  • Everyone is screened as part of a standard intake process.
  • One or more specific behaviors related to substance dependence are targeted.
  • Services are delivered in a public health, non-substance abuse treatment-related setting.
  • SBIRT ensures a seamless transition between brief universal screening, a brief intervention and/or brief treatment, and referral to specialty substance abuse care.

Is SBIRT successful? You bet – particularly for treating people who are experiencing problems with alcohol. (See Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for information.


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