Why should we know sbirt?

The primary goal of SBIRT is NOT to identify those who have a substance use disorder and need further assessment but instead to identify those who are at moderate or high risk for psycho-social or health care problems related to their substance use choices.

Federal Mandate:

In 2015, the California Planning Report stated, "effective January 1, 2014, California began offering the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) benefit to adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries. SBIRT implements Affordable Care Act Section 4106, which clarifies preventative services, aligned with the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommendations, will be offered to all Medi-Cal beneficiaries aged 18 and older in primary care settings."

SBIRT Services have been shown to:

  • Decrease severity of drug and alcohol use;
  • Increase the percent of people who get specialized treatment (when they need it);
  • Reduce health care costs (associated with costly emergency department visits, accidents, and overdoses)

How SBIRT changes Alcohol Use Treatment


The historic vs. sbirt approach to substance use treatment


Historically, substance use services have been dichotomized into two areas; Primary and Tertiary prevention. By defining the problem as addiction or dependence, this outdated model fails to recognize a full continuum of substance use behavior, a full continuum of substance use problems, and does not provide a full continuum of substance use interventions. As a result, this model has failed to provide resources in the area of greatest need. SBIRT helps change how the issue is viewed, it frames alcohol misuse as a public health issue and shifts Addiction to Excessive Use. By changing our language surrounding misuse we can reduce stigma for patients and encourage their motivation for change.

SBIRT provides:

Immediate rule out of non-problem users;

Identification of levels of risk;

Identification of patients who would benefit from brief advisement;

Identification of patients who would benefit from further assessment;

Progressive levels of clinical interventions based on need and motivation for change.




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