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Mini Guide to Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment: An Overview of SBIRT and Resources



Mini Guide to Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment: An Overview of SBIRT and Resources

Join us for a free webinar on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 3:00-4:30pm PM ET (2CT/1MT/12PT).

Register now!


Description: The acronym “SBIRT” is being used more and more these days, which stands for Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment. This free webinar will provide an overview of the SBIRT model, use of validated screening tools, and a review of core components of brief Intervention and referral. The presenter will also provide information on free resources and SBIRT protocols available to help you with training, implementation, and evaluation. This free education is ideal for those professionals wishing to gain a basic understanding of SBIRT and available resources, as training for professionals new to SBIRT, or as a primer before advancing to other webinars offered in this series.

Presented by: Dr. Tracy McPherson is a Senior Research Scientist in the Public Health Department at NORC at the University of Chicago. Over the past 13 years, McPherson has led initiatives supported by NIDA, CSAP, NHTSA, NHLBI, SAMSHA, and CDC. McPherson is an applied social psychologist and an expert on substance abuse prevention and early intervention who, until deciding to join NORC, has been an Assistant Research Professor at George Washington University Medical Center (GW). Prior to working at GW, she held R&D and training positions in the areas of health and productivity management, substance abuse, and mental health at the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies at Cornell University and at ISA Associates. She has presented numerous papers at leading professional meetings; has published over 30 articles, reports and book chapters; and serves as a reviewer for leading journals in workplace behavioral health, health and productivity management, and substance abuse.

More information about this webinar: http://hospitalsbirt.webs.com/overview-of-sbirt

More SBIRT Webinars: http://hospitalsbirt.webs.com/webinars.htm

Questions? Email misti.storie@gmail.com or visit www.sbirteducation.com

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

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Drugs are a Local Phenomenon for LGBTQ Populations: Implications for SBIRT

92f7b4a5ed41415ae67c6892f4a4bda1Upcoming Webinar
Drugs are a Local Phenomenon for LGBTQ Populations: Implications for SBIRT
July 22, 2015  3:00 – 4:30 PM Eastern


Overview: The 2011 Institute of Medicine report titled “The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People” argues persuasively that there is a need for more attention to these subpopulations from clinical, research and policy perspectives.

With that in mind, webinar attendees will:

  • Appreciate the social geography of substance use for LGBTQ populations
  • Understand the ways that substance use relates to broader health disparities
  • Consider the ways that local contextual knowledge can improve SBIRT implementation

Background: Studies indicate that, when compared with the general population, LGBT people are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, have higher rates of substance abuse, are less likely to abstain from use, and are more likely to continue heavy drinking into later life (SAMHSA, 2012).

But those are national-level data. How does this look at the local level? How do local patterns of use impact our approach to SBIRT?


FREE Online SBIRT Course Now Available | FREE CE Credit Available

SBIRT Header



Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Training:
4-hour Self-Paced, Online Course 


Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for persons with substance use disorders and those at risk of developing these disorders. Overall, substance use contributes to over 70 conditions that require medical care. Screening can be easily used in primary care settings and enables healthcare professionals to systematically identify and assist people whose drinking or substance use may cause or complicate medical and mental health functioning.

This 4-hour training is relevant for both primary care and behavioral health providers. Our training provides a brief overview of the prevalence of substance use, criteria for risky use, and the effects of substance use on health and mental health functioning. We review the two approved screening tools (AUDIT and AUDIT-C), and teach providers how to conduct a three-step Brief Intervention utilizing motivational interviewing techniques focused on motivating people toward positive behavioral change. For individuals identified to be at high risk for an alcohol use disorder, we teach providers how to motivate patients to accept a referral to specialty substance abuse treatment services.

At the conclusion of the training, participants will be able to: (1) describe the background and rationale for conducting SBIRT with patients in primary care settings; (2) utilize the AUDIT or AUDIT-C to screen and identify patients engaged in moderate or high-risk alcohol consumption; and (3) demonstrate, through role-play and group discussion, the effective use of brief intervention strategies and techniques to motivate patients to change their at-risk substance use behavior and/or seek treatment.

FREE CE Credit Available for:

  • LMFTs
  • LCSWs
  • LPCCs
  • LEPs
  • Registered Nurses
  • CADC I and II
  • CATC
  • CAS I and II
  • NCACs I/II
  • MACs

SAMHSA responds to recent publications in JAMA

Most likely many of you are familiar with the recently published studies on SBIRT published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).  Although these studies contain some very solid research data, their focus does not do justice to the benefits SBIRT brings to behavioral health.  In case you have not seen the articles,  the two studies (and the related editorial) are attached.   SAMHSA believes these two papers are of substantial interest.  However, it is important to look at the papers from the proper perspective.


Both papers focused on the Brief Intervention (BI) part of SBIRT, not the Screening part and not the referral to treatment (RT) part. These two studies were well done and elaborate.  However, the value of SBIRT could not be challenged by either study.  Furthermore, the value of SBIRT to behavioral health and primary care providers is the ability of SBIRT to identify when a patient is in need.  When patients have chronic medical problems, there are multiple opportunities to address the issue of substance use. Roy-Byrne noted the majority of his participants had a single brief intervention contact, with only 47% receiving a follow-up booster call.  Saitz reported a single session approach for his two test conditions.


During the 11 years since SAMHSA’s SBIRT program has been in existence, over 2 million people have been screened. Of those, only a small percentage screened positive for any “at risk” behaviors, with about 11 percent of those screened receiving a brief intervention. Without screening many of these people might have remained invisible. SBIRT gives providers and primary care physicians an opportunity to identify potential alcohol and substance misuse or abuse and, through brief intervention, an opportunity to use that “teachable moment” to educate patients and, potentially, change the behavior of “at risk” individuals for the better.


Roy-Byrne’s title “Brief Intervention for Problem Drug Use in Safety-Net Primary Care Settings” really is applicable to both papers.  Ninety-one percent of Roy-Byrne’s participants were unemployed, while 81% of Saitz participants were on Medicaid or Medicare. Fifty-six percent of Roy-Byrne’s participants had greater than one ICD-9 Mental Illness code, while 46% of Saitz’s participants had a co-morbid mood disorder.  Saitz required his participants to have an ASSIST score of greater than 4 in order to participate.  That is understandable, since the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that an ASSIST score of 4 to 26 should result in brief intervention and a score of 27+ should result in more intensive treatment. 


It is important to remember brief intervention does not work for everyone.  For many, learning the consequences of their “at risk” behavior or abuse can provide the wake-up call they need to either stop using or seek appropriate treatment.   For individuals with more severe and complex substance use disorders, brief intervention will most likely not be sufficient to change their behaviors.   For this group it is important that a treatment referral be made.


When dealing with complex patients with complex problems, is it reasonable to expect BI to “cure” the substance use disorder?  No. The question for SBIRT is whether it is feasible to screen for drug use disorders in primary care, just as it is feasible to screen for alcohol use disorders. Both papers implicitly say “Yes.”  Thus, if it is feasible, the next question is whether it should be done.  We believe that if we are to promote integrated treatment, primary care providers (PCPs) must have the basic skills necessary to identify SUDs in primary care settings.  SAMHSA’s SBIRT program accomplishes this. SBIRT is not a panacea, it is an important process that can help primary care providers identify alcohol and drug use problems. We have to wait for research on more representative populations to determine whether BI works.


In response to these articles, Dr. Clark authored a blog on SBIRT.  You can access it via this link: 



You can view the abstracts of the two articles  below:

Brief Intervention for Problem Drug Use in Safety-Net Primary Care SettingsA Randomized Clinical Trial- Click here for abstract

Screening and Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment for Drug Use in Primary CareBack to the Drawing Board- Click here for abstract

The SBIRT Alert- 5/20/2014

An occasional email update from the National SBIRT ATTC .

Upcoming Webinars

June 11, 2014
2:00 – 3:30 PM EDT
Applying SBIRT to Depression, Prescription Medication Abuse, Tobacco Use, Trauma, and Other Client Concerns
Richard Brown, MD, MPH
Why might you consider implementing systematic behavioral screening and intervention (BSI) in your healthcare setting? The Wisconsin Initiative to Promote Healthy Lifestyles and its spin-off, Wellsys, LLC, have helped dozens of clinics implement BSI. Now, with CDC funding, BSI is expanding to improve outcomes for diabetes, hypertension and lipid disorders. Register

June 25, 2014

1:00 – 2:30 PM EDT
SBIRT as Part of Project Care: Integrating Behavioral Healthcare Services in Kern County, CA
Lily Alvarez; Christopher Reilly, LMFT, & Darren Urada, PhD 
Participants will learn steps to assimilate behavioral health services into an integrated primary care model such that behavioral health is embraced and requested, rather than feared and shunned. Project Care evaluation data and information about how to measure integration in other organizations will also be discussed. Register

Tools for Practice


Substance Use Education for Nurses curriculum
Created by IRETA and the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, this curriculum has been used to successfully train over 500 undergraduate student nurses. It is available free of charge in hopes that it will be widely utilized in the training and education of student and professional nurses, along with others in healthcare fields. Read more


Motivational Interviewing Module for CMEs
PCSS-MAT has posted a self-paced educational module for physicians about the fundamentals of MI. Read more
Behavioral health video library for educators and practitioners
Training and education about behavioral health can be dramatically improved when integrated with video and other media. There are vast numbers of videos available today on behavioral health topics. Thus, the Central East ATTC has used its expertise to curate some of the better behavioral health videos online and organized them clearly. Great resource; bookmark it. Read more


Of Interest

Implementation publication focuses on SBIRT
The Bridge, a semi-annual e-publication from the ATTC Network, recently devoted an entire issue to SBIRT implementation. Contributing authors are seasoned members of a nice range of health and human service fields. The whole issue is highly recommended. Read more
PlusTune in to The Bridge Video Talk Show TODAY to hear the researchers discuss the topic live! Register
Commentary: Let’s be sensitive to the messages we hear about pills  
Distributing candy pills at a behavioral health conference was a marketing faux pas. We can use it to spark change that will save livesRead more
We can’t ignore the social aspects of substance use, addiction and treatment 
Neuroscientist Carl Hart is a controversial figure. His research and social commentary has challenged the idea of drugs as addictive agents and drug policies that restrict access to them.  Whatever you think about the idea of “the rational choice of crack addicts,” it’s hard to argue with Hart’s insistence that the social aspects of substance use deserve more attention. Read more

The SBIRT Alert- 4/8/2014


An occasional email update from the National SBIRT ATTC .

Highlights from this alert:

Upcoming Events


Today!  April 8, 2014
3:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern
BIG Initiative Quarterly Meeting
The Brief Intervention Group is open to anyone interested in SBIRT.  Join the call to hear about SBIRT activities around the country. Register


Tools for Practice
WHO Guidelines: Substance Use and Pregnancy
The World Health Oorganization has released long-awaited guidelines for the identification and management of substance use and substance use disorders in pregnancy.  The Executive Summary lists 18 recommendations that include screening, pharmacotherapy, detox, breastfeeding, and neonatal withdrawal, among topics.  Worth a look for any health professional who works with pregnant/postnatal women and their infants. Read more
Benzodiazepines & Medication-Assisted Treatment
IRETA has developed a handout/infographic to help MAT patients understand immediate and long-term effects of benzodiazepines, as well as and the relationship between benzo use and recovery. Free to download.  Read more
Newly Revised SBIRT Curriculum
As the National SBIRT ATTC, IRETA recently completed an update of a national curriculum originally developed by the Pacific Southwest ATTC.  Free to download.  Read more
MoreVeteran SBIRT trainer Jim Aiello offers a quick tour of the new curriculum in a 5-minute video, one of our SBIRT Digital Tools.  View
Of Interest 

National Council will Support SBIRT and MI for Youth in up to 30 Behavioral Health Organizations
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded the National Council a $1.3 grant to implement SBIRT in community organizations that have contact with youth at most risk for substance use disorders.  A competitive application process is set to begin this spring.  Read more
AMERSA Conference – Call for Abstracts & Workshops
The 38th annual Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA) conference will be held November 6-8 in San Francisco.  The deadline to submit abstracts and workshops is May 31.Read more

Click here to Subscribe to The SBIRT Alert .


The SBIRT Alert- 3/25/2014

An occasional email update from the National SBIRT ATTC .

Highlights from this alert:

Upcoming Webinars:

April 9, 2014
2:00 – 3:30 PM EST
Reducing Opioid Risk with SBIRT
Angela Ellis, MA & Alicia Kusiak, MA, CRC, LCPC
This free webinar will raise awareness about the value of SBIRT as a proactive solution for reducing opioid risk in patients receiving treatment for pain.  Participants will learn the components of a “universal precautions” approach when prescribing opioids and understand how SBIRT can play a key role in the treatment plan for patients on opioid medication. Register

April 25, 2014
10:00 – 11:30 AM EST
Military Culture: Cycles of Deployment
Mona M. Johnson, MA, CPP, CDP
This webinar will provide information about helping soldiers resolve issues related to their deployment.Register

Read more here.

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