What is SBIRT?

SBIRT is based in research.

SBIRT is a research-based framework that gives health care providers skills to discuss health behavior changes with their patients.  It has proven to be particularly effective at motivating individuals to change harmful substance use.

The three parts of SBIRT are:
Screening: determines the severity of substance use
Brief Intervention: builds motivation through a collaborative conversation
Referral to Treatment: directly links patient with appropriate, requested services

SBIRT is proactive, not just reactive.

Beyond connecting individuals with substance dependence to treatment and health services, using SBIRT as an early intervention can reduce risky alcohol and drug use before it leads to more severe consequences or dependence. For instance, screening patients in emergency settings makes it possible to use their substance use-related injury or illness as motivation to change.


The SBIRT method we have developed is unique due to the strong foundations in motivational interviewing and emphasis on helping patients navigate referral systems.  The Brief Negotiated Interview (BNI) can reduce patients’ resistance to change, and helps patients realize their own reasons and  motivations to make healthy choices.  Having an Active Referral to Treatment (ART) minimizes outward barriers to seeking services, creating an environment for success.