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SAMHSA News - March/April 2008, Volume 16, Number 2


SBIRT (SAMHSA’s Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) logo - Screening in Action: Flexibility Helps

Screening on Campus: Effective and Available

By Rebecca A. Clay

photo of a health educator at a desk talking to a patient seated near her
At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, screening for substance abuse is part of every student’s experience during a visit to the university clinic.

Although campus grantees use the SBIRT model in a variety of ways, their goals are the same.

No matter what the approach, grantees work to combat underage drinking and substance use, and they make screening and brief intervention a regular part of student health care.

Take the University of Massachusetts Amherst, for example. Historically, like many other campuses, the school has a high rate of binge drinking.

In 2003, almost 77 percent of students reported drinking five or more drinks in a sitting—what prevention experts call “heavy episodic drinking.” Forty percent of students were frequent heavy episodic drinkers, consuming alcohol in this way three or more times over a 2-week period. Now, these numbers are dropping.

In 2005, the university used a strategic plan to reduce high-risk drinking, integrating individual and environmental prevention strategies. The campus follows the individual SBIRT approach in its Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) program, said Project Director Diane Fedorchak, M.Ed., C.A.G.S., at University Health Services.

BASICS targets students who have violated the school’s alcohol policies, including possessing alcohol if they’re underage or having an open container in a public space.

The intervention consists of two hour-long sessions. At the first, a master’s level prevention specialist builds rapport; assesses the student’s drinking patterns, drug use, and family history; and provides information.

“We talk about what a drink is so students have a more accurate sense of their drinking. The intention is for students to understand that ‘two drinks’ is two 1.5-ounce servings of vodka, not two Nalgene bottles full of vodka,” explained Ms. Fedorchak.

At the second session, the prevention specialist reviews questionnaire results, compares the student’s drinking with that of other students, and offers suggestions for reducing the amount consumed.

Results are impressive on both campus and individual levels, said Ms. Fedorchak. The frequent heavy episodic drinking rate is down 38 percent. The heavy episodic drinking rate has declined 26 percent. “Our ‘heavy hitters’ are changing their habits,” she said.

For more information about SBIRT, visit SAMHSA’s Web site at www.sbirt.samhsa.govEnd of Article

See Screening in Action

See Alaska’s SBIRT Program

SBIRT Grantees List »

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Inside This Issue
Screening Works: Update from the Field
About SBIRT
SBIRT Funding Opportunity
SBIRT Resources

Screening in Action
Alaska’s SBIRT Program
SBIRT on a College Campus
SBIRT Grantees List

Administrator’s Message


Funding Opportunities

President’s Budget Focuses on Priority Initiatives

Making Workplaces Drug-Free: Toolkit Available

Teens and Drug Use
Stimulant Use and Delinquent Behavior
Inhalants Used Most by Young Teens

State-by-State Report

Treatment Admissions Data Released

Rural Issues: The Substance Use Myth

Katrina, Rita: Hurricane Impact

Guest Speaker: Psychiatric Service Dogs Help

Community Prevention Day

About SAMHSA

SAMHSA News - March/April 2008, Volume 16, Number 2