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About Screening, Brief Intervention & Referral To Treatment (SBIRT)

Healthcare providers can reduce the impact of substance misuse, abuse and addiction with cost-effective screening and brief intervention.

Substance misuse, abuse and addiction contribute to a wide range of health-related problems, and lead to extensive legal, financial and emotional consequences for individuals, families and society. Healthcare providers are in a prime position to reduce these negative outcomes. Yet many healthcare providers report that addressing alcohol and other drug problems is one of the most challenging areas of their practice.

SBIRT can help

The evidence-based practice of Screening, Brief Intervention & Referral To Treatment (SBIRT) can be part of the solution. The first component of SBI is a valid and reliable short screen that can be administered in a variety of ways, followed by a brief intervention (as few as 3 minutes), if needed, based on the results of the screen. The brief intervention includes feedback about the screening results (what they mean for the patient and his/her health), concrete advice based on medical concern and low-risk guidelines, and support for the decision of the patient. If a persons screening places them in the "high risk" category, Referral to Treatment is provided to the person as an option.

SBIRT views substance use as a continuum (see below), not just a matter of being “addicted” or “not addicted.” It targets individuals who are using alcohol or other drugs in hazardous or harmful ways, but who are not dependent. Many people do not even know that they may be engaging in behaviors that put them and others at risk. These individuals have the ability to modify their behavior with feedback, information, advice and support. Of course, the process also identifies those in need of specialized treatment and can assist in motivating these patients to seek the help they need. Increasing data show that this brief process is cost-effective and reduces alcohol and other drug use and associated harm.

Looking at the Continium Model below, the area highlighted in green is viewed as "low risk drinking", the area highlighted in yellow is viewed as "moderate risk" and  "high risk". The area highlighted in red is viewed as "problematic use". With this continium model, the goal of SBIRT is to elimnate or reduce the amount of time a individual spends in the yellow highlighted area. By eliminating the yellow highlighted area, the individual greatly reduces the likelyhood of ending up in the red highlighted area with problematic use.














Free SBIRT services from The Council

How can a healthcare practice go about implementing its own SBIRT program? The Council has extensive experience in providing training, technical assistance and consultation to healthcare providers in the area of screening, brief intervention & referral to treatment. These services are free to all healthcare practices in Bucks County and for a minimal cost outside of Bucks County.  Services can be tailored to meet the needs of the individual practice so that SBIRT can be implemented with minimal time and effort. We also assist in creating relationships with local treatment providers, county agencies and recovery support resources to help providers connect patients who need additional assistance.


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