Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce and prevent problematic use, abuse and dependence on alcohol and drugs. SBIRT can easily be used in primary care settings.

This approach enables healthcare professionals to systematically screen and assist patients who may not be seeking help for a substance use problem but whose drinking or drug use may cause or complicate their ability to successfully handle health, work or family issues.

SBIRT has been proven to be an effective method to fight substance abuse among older adults. The journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found an almost 68% reduction in drug use over a six-month period among people who had received SBIRT services. Those who received brief interventions or referrals to specialty treatment also reported other improvements, including fewer arrests, more stable housing situations, improved employment status, fewer emotional problems and improved overall health.

Easy Steps to Implement in your Healthcare Setting;

  • Contact Riverside's Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health (CEALH) at (757) 220-4751.
  • SBIRT Project staff will provide training in your healthcare setting (less than 30 minutes of your time) on the SBIRT process and will show providers how to receive reimbursement through Medicare, Medicaid and private insurances.
  • The actual screening of patients takes approximately 15 minutes or less.
  • Depending on the severity of the patient's substance use, the provider can elect to spend more time with the patient or refer the patient to CEALH staff.
  • CEALH staff will provide brief intervention services to patients including exploring the patient's current substance use patterns and encouraging risk-reduction techniques.
  • CEALH staff can also help in determining whether additional treatment services might be appropriate, while serving as a liaison between CEALH and referring sites.