Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Colorado Highlighted in Federal Issue Brief on Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment

Screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment, more commonly referred to as SBIRT, is an evidence-based public health approach to decreasing severity of alcohol and drug use and reducing healthcare costs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), recently released an SBIRT Issue Brief on the effectiveness of SBIRT in reducing healthcare costs, decreasing severity of alcohol and drug use, reducing risk of physical trauma and reducing the percentage of patients who go without specialized substance use treatment.

Given SBIRT's demonstrated cost and health savings, federal agencies such as SAMHSA, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, as well as managed care providers and major medical associations, have recommended SBIRT's routine use. HRSA is also looking to fund a project to begin establishing SBIRT in Federally Qualified Health Centers across the country.

Colorado is highlighted in the SBIRT Issue Brief, particularly for work in the area of reimbursement of physicians and non-physician professionals in delivering substance use screening and brief interventions. In 2006, Colorado received a grant from SAMHSA to implement SBIRT in primary care settings. José Esquibel of the Interagency Prevention Systems program in the Prevention Services Division (CDPHE) served as the Project Director of the SBIRT grant in partnership with the Governor's Office, the Division of Behavioral Health (Colorado Department of Human Services), and Peers Assistance, Inc.. Between 2006 and 2011, over 115,000 individuals were screened in twelve primary care settings in Colorado. A follow-up study of a sample of these patients indicated that daily alcohol use fell by 49.3 percent and there was also a 47.5 percent reduction in days using illegal drugs.

Colorado is also the recipient of a second SBIRT grant from SAMHSA, with funding for the next four years to expand SBIRT across the state.

For information about SBIRT Colorado, including clinical guidelines for primary care professional, visit Also, HealthTeam Works, a partner of SBIRT Colorado, developed an online SBIRT and Tobacco Screening Training Module for professionals.

Spread the news that SBIRT works!

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