UCLA is conducting a large randomized clinical trial of SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) for risky substance use in mental health setting. SBIRT is an evidence-based public health approach to identifying and providing brief counseling for those who use alcohol or other drugs at risky levels.sbirt America-400x275

Using SBIRT, a practitioner screens a client for risky use with a short questionnaire. If moderate risky use is indicated, a brief intervention may follow. If severe risk is indicated, a referral to treatment may be made.

SBIRT has long been used in primary care and hospital settings, but not (until recently) in behavioral healthcare. Since 7.7 million adults in the United States have co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders, SBIRT could be very valuable as a screening and intervention process informing mental health intakes, assessments, and reassessments.

Initial research suggests that SBIRT in behavioral health settings could effectively address clients’ risky substance use, including teens with co-occurring disorders (one study) and in mental health clinics (in another study) utilizing the ASSIST tool developed by the World Health Organization.

SBIRT’s effectiveness is also being studied intensively at the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs at UCLA with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

SBIRT education and training is also being integrated into the curricula of several graduate schools of social work, to be used by those who become clinical social workers; and SBIRT has been endorsed by the Council on Socil Work Education (CSWE) for further adoption by graduate programs.

Information provided by Jessica Williams, Institute for Research, Education, and Training in Addictions (IRETA)

References and resources:

Image via ATTCnetwork.org


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