George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

VA-SBIRT: Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment


Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based public health approach for the early identification and early intervention of substance misuse and co-occurring problems. As an upstream approach, the SBIRT model aims to identify substance misuse as it is emerging so that an appropriate intervention can be offered to assist people in decreasing their risk of developing a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and decrease the impact of negative consequences linked to substance use.

  • Screening is the first step. Where possible, this includes universal screening of all people in a given setting. Substance use screening can include alcohol, drugs, and/or tobacco and nicotine. Given the high co-occurrence between substance use and mental health symptoms, screening for mental health often includes depression, anxiety, posttrauma reactions, and/or suicide. 

  • Brief Interventions are offered to people identified in the mild, moderate, or severe risk categories. 

  • Referral to Treatment involves an active and collaborative approach to the referral process. This may include planning around the facilitators and barriers to accepting the referral, developing relationships with common referral sites to streamline the transition, and instituting follow-up as a standard of care. 

With the right training, any health care professional can be trained to have a role in the SBIRT process. You can access free training, consultation services and support through Virginia SBIRT. Find out how SBIRT can be implemented in your setting by contacting us.

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