Treatment Works

SBIRT Initiative

The Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) model is defined by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services. The primary goal of SBIRT is to identify and intervene with patients who are at a moderate or high risk for psychosocial or other healthcare problems related to their substance use. The program design is guided by the need to reduce both harmful and hazardous substance use, as well as related healthcare costs. The use of universal screening in SBIRT provides immediate “rule out” of those who do not use substances; identification of levels of risk; identification of patients who would benefit from a brief awareness-raising conversation; and identification of patients who would benefit from higher levels of care such as substance use disorder (SUD) treatment.

South Carolina’s SC SBIRT initiative began in August 2013 as a five-year, SAMHSA-funded cooperative agreement. SAMHSA was then able to fund a second five-year cooperative agreement that began in September 2018. SC SBIRT has three primary goals:

  • To increase access to SBIRT for adults in rural hospital emergency departments.
  • To ensure that SBIRT is utilized as the standard of care in South Carolina’s healthcare settings through state-level systems and policy change.
  • To improve health and behavioral outcomes among adults with SUDs or substance use with co-occurring mental illness. As part of this initiative, a diverse array of healthcare sites have provided more than 94,170 initial screens for alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use to nearly 552,328 patients (S.C. Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office).

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