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


The approach to SAMHSA’s Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Initiative is simple.

Screening. With just a few questions on a questionnaire or in an interview, practitioners can identify patients who have alcohol or substance use problems and determine how severe those problems already are.

Brief Intervention. If screening results indicate moderate risk, individuals receive brief interventions. The intervention educates them about their substance use, alerts them to possible consequences, and motivates them to change their behavior.

Brief Treatment. If individuals are at moderate to high risk, the next step is brief treatment. Similar to brief intervention, this emphasizes motivations to change and client empowerment.

Referral to Treatment. For those whose screening indicates a severe problem or dependence, the next step is referral to substance abuse treatment.


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