Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment

What is SBIRT?

SBIRT is a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for persons with substance use disorders, as well as those who are at risk of developing these disorders. Primary care centers, hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers, and other community settings provide opportunities for early intervention with at-risk substance users before more severe consequences occur.

  • Screening quickly assesses the severity of substance use and identifies the appropriate level of treatment.
  • Brief intervention focuses on increasing insight and awareness regarding substance use and motivation toward behavioral change.
  • Referral to treatment provides those identified as needing more extensive treatment with access to speciality care.

A key aspect of SBIRT is the integration and coordination of screening and treatment components into a system of services. This system links a community's specialized treatment programs with a network of early intervention and referral activities that are conducted in medical and social service settings.

This Web site does not provide screening, treatment, referral to treatment or offer self-assessment tools. Visitors seeking treatment, referral to treatment, and/or self-assessment or screening should visit SAMHSA's online Substance Abuse Help for Individuals. You may also call SAMHSA’s 24-hour toll free Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357).

Is SBIRT Effective?

SBIRT research has shown that large numbers of individuals at risk of developing serious alcohol or other drug problems may be identified through primary care screening. Interventions such as SBIRT have been found to:

  • Decrease the frequency and severity of drug and alcohol use,
  • Reduce the risk of trauma, and
  • Increase the percentage of patients who enter specialized substance abuse treatment.

In addition to decreases in substance abuse, screening and brief interventions have also been associated with fewer hospital days and fewer emergency department visits. Cost-benefit analyses and cost-effectiveness analyses have demonstrated net-cost savings from these interventions.

What Does This Web Site Offer?

The purpose of the SBIRT Web site is to provide a single, comprehensive repository of SBIRT information. This information includes training manuals, online resources, links to organizations and publications, and a list of references. The site will be updated as new tools, resources, and information become available. Check back often.