Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based practice for identifying, reducing, and preventing risky substance use and misuse as well as dependence on alcohol and drugs. The first component of SBIRT is screening, where a health care professional assesses a patient for risky substance use using standardized screening tools. Screening can occur in any healthcare setting. If a patient screens positive for risky use or potential SUD, a health care professional engages the patient in a short conversation, providing feedback and advice. The health care professional may make a referral to treatment for patients at higher risk who express interest in receiving specialty SUD services.
SBIRT can be implemented in Emergency Department and other health care settings, and enables health care professionals to systematically screen and assist people 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 aims to prevent the unhealthy consequences of alcohol and drug use among those whose use may not have reached the diagnostic level of a SUD. It also helps those with SUD to identify the risk and engage in treatment.