SBIRT, a program sponsored by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services, has been established at the Indiana University School of Medicine. The SBIRT program, Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment, is a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for persons with substance use disorders, as well as those who are at risk of developing these disorders. Primary care centers, hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers, and other community settings provide opportunities for early intervention with at-risk substance users before more severe consequences occur.
Primary investigator, Dr. David Crabb, and program coordinator, Joe Bartholomew, lead a contingent of professionals from the IU School of Medicine, Midtown Community Mental Health Center and Wishard Health Services in rolling out the five year program that is estimated to have a profound effect on how physicians interact with their patients.
“The SBIRT program will definitely change the way physicians engaged their patients in the discussion on substance use whether it be alcohol, prescription medications, and/or other drugs,” said Joe Bartholomew, SBIRT program coordinator. “It is very important that physicians ask their patients about substance use. Many physicians aren’t sure how to approach their patients about this topic.”
SBIRT research has shown that large numbers of individuals at risk of developing serious alcohol or other drug problems may be identified through primary care screening. Interventions such as SBIRT have been found to:
- Decrease the frequency and severity of drug and alcohol use,
- Reduce the risk of trauma, and
- Increase the percentage of patients who enter specialized substance abuse treatment.
In addition to decreases in substance abuse, screening and brief interventions have also been associated with fewer hospital days and fewer emergency department visits. Cost-benefit analyses and cost-effectiveness analyses have demonstrated net-cost savings from these interventions.