George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University


The Brief Intervention (BI) in the SBIRT protocol is designed to enhance motivation for behavior change, like reducing substance use to low-risk levels or to engage in treatment. For some individuals, greater support is needed to change substance use behaviors, especially when use has been chronic or is at higher severity levels. When brief interventions alone are not sufficient, Brief Treatment or Referral to Treatment may be appropriate.

The goal of Brief Treatment is to provide people with the tools needed to change substance using behaviors and to better manage commonly associated problems. Within six to 12 sessions, people are able to learn and apply skills to better reduce substance use, manage powerful emotions, strengthen interpersonal and boundary-setting behaviors, and enhance social support. Access to an on-site behavioral health clinician facilitates a seamless transition from a medical provider to a behavioral health provider. In some cases, Brief Treatment may also be used if resources for more extensive specialty treatments are not available or inaccessible.

If an outside Referral to Treatment is appropriate and available, providers can facilitate an assertive and collaborative handoff. Having an appointment in place and a plan for overcoming barriers to getting to that appointment (e.g., transportation, childcare, etc.) increases compliance with follow-up.

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