Screening and Brief Intervention and Referral for Treatment


SBIRT is an abbreviation that stands screening, brief Intervention and Referral for Treatment. It is an evidence-based approach to identifying patients who use alcohol and other drugs at risky levels with the goal of reducing and preventing related health consequences, disease, accidents and injuries. Risky substance use is a health issue and often goes undetected. Screening, brief intervention and referral for treatment helps detect these health issues

It is a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach that provides opportunities for early intervention before more severe consequences occur of drug use occurs. There are tools that that have been approved to be effective in identifying people with or are at risk of a Substance Use Disorder that must be used in this procedure. Based on implementation of this model nationally, of 459,599 patients screened, 22.7 percent screened positive for a spectrum of use (risky/problematic, abuse/addiction). Of those who screened positive 15.9 percent were recommended for a brief intervention with a smaller percentage recommended for brief treatment (3.2 percent) or referral to specialty treatment (3.7 percent).

Why is Screening, brief intervention and referral for treatment Important?

SBIRT has been found to be effective in dealing with addiction. Apart from screening, SBIRT is an effective tool for identifying risk behaviors and providing appropriate intervention. Healthcare providers can use evidence-based brief interventions focusing on health and other consequences, preventing future problems by simply screening for high risk behavior.

The main objective of SBIRT is to identify and effectively intervene with those who are at moderate or high risk for psychosocial or health care problems related to their substance use so as to formulate strategies to help them evade the dire consequences associated with drug use.

Research Demonstrates Effectiveness

All studies that have been done on this subject have shown that SBIRT is an effective approach to dealing with issues associated with drug addiction. It has been found to be very cost effective yet has very positive outcomes. Several research findings show that SBIRT is an effective way to reduce drinking and substance abuse problems.

SBIRT incorporates screening for all types of substance use with brief, tailored feedback and advice. It can also be done in different settings. Screening does not have to be performed by a physician. Research shows that Simple feedback on risky behavior can be one of the most important influences on patient behavior and change.

Through research it has been found that:

Brief interventions are cost effective and yield positive results. Brief interventions are most effective among persons with less severe problems. In a report of a study done for U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2004 it is quoted that; “Brief interventions are feasible and highly effective components of an overall public health approach to reducing alcohol misuse.”

Based on many researches that have been done on the subject there is substantial evidence for the effectiveness of brief interventions for harmful drinking. There is a growing body of literature showing the effectiveness of SBIRT for risky drug use.

Since 2003, SAMHSA has supported SBIRT programs, with more than 1.5 million persons screened. Out of these people, 40 percent showed a reduction in harmful use of alcohol by those drinking at risky levels and a 55 percent reduction in negative social consequences. The data also showed positive benefits for reduced illicit substance use. The evidence of this is in a review of SBIRT GPRA data (2003−2011).

Brief Intervention

Brief Intervention refers to a brief motivational and awareness-raising intervention given to risky or problematic substance users. There are steps involved in brief intervention.

Steps involved in Brief Intervention

  1. Build rapport– here begin with a general conversation to avoid tension and create a good relationship with the patient. Ask the patient to allow you to speak about alcohol and drugs, whichever he may be subject to. When the conversation is going on discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using alcohol, let him tell you these points.
  2. Provide feedback- ask the patient to allow you to give your feedback on the issue, discuss your screening findings with him and link any substance use behaviors to any known consequences.
  3. Build readiness to change- Create the urge to change in the patient, talk to the patient and let him know that you really have to know how much he is interested in making a change. You know how bad he wants the change by using a scale of 1-10. Ask him this question: On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being not ready at all and 10 being completely ready, how ready are you to make any changes in your substance use?
  4. Negotiate a Plan for Change

SBIRTAfter knowing where his interest lies on the scale you will give him the opportunity to choose which way to take between the available options. Whether to choose a plan for reducing alcohol use to low risk levels or to go continue with receiving specialty treatment services.

What are the benefits of SBIRT?

This approach to treatment of alcohol and addiction to other drugs has been found to be very beneficial. Some of its benefits include: It prevents disease, accidents and injuries related to substance use, resulting in better patient outcomes. It also reduces the cost of healthcare needless to mention SBIRT is reimbursable, billing codes are available in New York State.

Finally, Here at AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center we are committed to availing help to addicts by availing some of the most integrative approaches to healing an addict. We advocate for natural healing to all kinds of addiction. Call on Dr. Dalal Akoury (MD) at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for help.

Screening and Brief Intervention and Referral for Treatment