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Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral and Treatment (SBIRT)

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based approach for identifying and responding to persons at risk for alcohol, tobacco and other substance use disorders. The SBIRT method identifies at risk individuals, provides a brief intervention and referral for specialty care when indicated. SBIRT is an effective way to integrate behavioral health into primary care. Primary care clinics, emergency departments, mental health, corrections and college health programs are utilizing SBIRT to begin addressing the significant human, healthcare, and safety-related costs associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. .

SBIRT builds on the screening approach used in health care for a range of lifestyle issues, e.g. blood pressure and medication compliance. With SBIRT, screening for drug and alcohol use becomes part of every medical exam. Simple tools make it easy to implement in your setting. Studies have revealed:

  • Two-thirds of risky alcohol and tobacco users see their general practitioner each year

  • Even a 5-minute intervention reduces risky substance use

  • SBIRT in medical settings reduces health related diseases and consequences related to substance use

  • Simple feedback based on a brief screening is an important factor in motivating change

  • SBIRT does not have to be delivered by a physician; any professional trained in SBIRT can be effective

  • SBIRT reduces healthcare costs.

Clinics and behavioral health specialists throughout the Pacific Northwest select NWATTC because we provide unique SBIRT trainings tailored to each individual’s role in the implementation of SBIRT. Our trainers have extensive experience with both SBIRT and Motivational Interviewing.

What SBIRT Training and Services Do We Offer? NWATTC offers tailored SBIRT training and services that result in sustainable changes in clinical practice including:

Program and Staff Development • Program development to help assess organizational readiness and develop a plan to assure adoption and implementation of the SBIRT model • Customized SBIRT training and technical assistance for all staff playing a role in SBIRT implementation (i.e., medical assistants, administrators, behavioral health specialist, physicians, and nurses) •SBIRT Learning Collaboratives that meet regularly over a number of months to reinforce skill building • Feedback and coaching for SBIRT practitioners •Supervisor training to create in-house capacity to sustain SBIRT skills and monitor fidelity to the model.

Courses include:

  • Introductory SBIRT Training (4-6 hrs) to build awareness of the value and rationale for SBIRT and introduce participants to its key components. Audience members will learn and practice the key skills for screening and providing a brief intervention and explore the factors that promote successful implementations of SBIRT.

  • Clinician SBIRT Training (1-2 days) to provide in-depth exposure to effective screening protocols, providing brief interventions, and using motivational interviewing to promote behavior change. The training combines discussion-based learning with experiential learning. Participants will practice conducting screenings and delivering brief interventions through role-plays and interactive case scenarios.

  • Role Based SBIRT Workshops (1-3 hrs) a suite of role-based SBIRT workshops focused on individual roles including Medical Assistants, Clinic Implementation Teams (administrators and clinic staff), Residents and Physicians to address how these roles each can assist with implementation, and for SBIRT knowledge and skill development.

How Can I Get Started? If you are interested in scheduling SBIRT training or services, please contact our training coordinator Jennifer Verbeck at (503) 494-9611 or email us at We will start by setting up a no-cost consultation with an experienced SBIRT trainer. Check out our SBIRT Brochureas well.

“Through individual and group consultations, NWATTC provides ongoing support and training on the SBIRT brief intervention, as well as Motivational Interviewing skills. This training and consultation has enhanced my skills in effectively engaging patients in discussions about their substance abuse issues and enhancing patients’ motivation to address their substance use in order to improve their overall health.” ~Mary, Behavioral Health Specialist


SBIRT Outcomes

SBIRT Oregon - Primary Care Residency Initiative: Addressing Alcohol and Drug Use with Primary Care Patients; this website offers:

  • a schematic description of the method

  • videos demonstrating how it is used (see below)

  • training curricula

  • tools for providers to use in the clinical setting

  • information on reimbursement

  • screening forms

  • information on clinics currently using the protocol in Oregon.

To view the SBIRT Oregon Primary Care Model Video click on the picture below.

Introduction to SBIRT

Video/PowerPoint presentation by Northwest Frontier ATTC for the ATTC Network Third Thursday iTraining presented on May 19, 2011. To view the video click on the picture below. (Length of video is 1 hour 19 minutes)

Addiction Messenger series on SBIRT (click on picture to view document)

Part 1 - Why Screen and Intervene?

Part 2 - Breaking The Model Down

Part 3 - Taking It to The Field

SBIRT Readiness Ruler: summarizes information for clinicians to use with patients

SBIRT Reference Sheet: outlines steps in the process and screening parameters

ATTC Network's "Foundations of SBIRT" online training


Boston University School of Public Health BNI ART Institute SBIRT Website

SAMHSA white paper on SBIRT

CASA's SBIRT Implementation and Process Change Manual for Practitioners (Nov. 2012)

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