Female doctor listens to patient's prescription questions

How does SBIRT Work?

SBIRT provides a framework from which a variety of settings can identify, and intervene, as well as refer individuals to treatment, thus reducing the associated adverse effects on health, family, and society.

Screening

Quickly assesses substance use by asking questions of all patients to identify those who may misuse alcohol or drugs, or are at risk for developing a problem. There are a number of validated screening instruments that will identify patients with risky levels of alcohol and substance use.

Learn More

Brief Intervention

A short conversation that occurs between a patient and provider/clinician when screening indicates a mild, moderate, or high risk. Brief intervention focuses on increasing a patient’s insight and awareness regarding their risky behaviors while using motivation to encourage a decrease or discontinuation of substance use. Through a brief intervention, the provider will discuss screening results, safe consumption, and will negotiate a change plan to modify risky behaviors. Brief interventions will also address the next steps for treatment or provision of services. Simple feedback on risky behaviors can be one of the most important influences on patient behavior and change. About 9% of those screened require brief intervention; those typically take less than 10 minutes.

Learn More

Brief Treatment

Is provided to patients who have a moderate risk for substance use. It focuses on achieving specific, measurable, short-term goals directed at resolving problems, developing skills, and eliminating harmful behaviors. A clinician helps the patient identify and challenge potential harmful ways of thinking, experiment with new behaviors, and plan for relapse prevention. The importance is placed on the work a patient does outside of the sessions.

Learn More

Referral to Treatment

It is provided to patients who have severe risk substance use and who wish to receive a further assessment for specialty care. Patients will be assisted in selecting treatment providers, accessing treatment, and navigating barriers that may hinder them from activating services. The manner in which a referral to further treatment is provided can have a tremendous impact on whether the patient will actually receive services with the referred provider. On average, about 5% of those screened will require a referral to specialty care.

Learn More

Risk Levels

There is a wide range of risks associated with substance use. At one end of the continuum are abstinence and low-risk use, and the opposite end is the risks associated with dependence and binge drinking. While the majority of current programs focus on education and treatment (both ends of the continuum), SBIRT aims to reach individuals who are in the middle of the range of risk. This would be indicated by the blue and orange areas.

Substance Risk Levels Pyramid by Vital - University of Alabama - SBIRT

Risk Levels