SBIRT Description

Alcohol and drug use screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based intervention proven to help patients reduce risky alcohol use. SBIRT is also a promising practice for helping patients reduce illegal drug use and prescription medication misuse. SBIRT is successfully used in primary care practices, hospitals, and other settings. Sole practitioners or multi-disciplinary staff can integrate the components of SBIRT into routine health care. Maryland Medicaid Managed Care Organizations reimburse eligible providers for one annual screening and up to four brief interventions per year. Medicare and most commercial insurance covers screening and brief interventions.

SBIRT includes three components: (1) Screening – short validated questionnaire to determine if patients are at low, medium or high risk for developing substance use disorders, (2) Brief Intervention – specific educational and motivational conversation techniques to identify patients’ readiness for behavior change and to help patients move towards reducing or stopping substance use, and (3) Referral to Treatment – how to help ensure patients will keep appointments with specialty treatment.

The goal of SBIRT is to intervene with patients before substance use problems worsen. Physicians are encouraged to view substance use disorders as chronic medical conditions that respond to treatment. This perspective helps reduce stigma and encourages patients to be more forthcoming about their substance use concerns. Together, health care providers, patients, families and public health officials can help reduce drug use, overdose and death.


We know that it’s important to screen our patients for risky substance use, deliver a brief intervention, and refer them to treatment if indicated. But conversations about substance use can be difficult. These training modules were designed to help providers navigate conversations in the context of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT).


Clinical Tools:

Professional Training

SBIRT curricula, webinars and other training materials

  • Video 1 – Maryland Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)
  • Video 2 – Introduction to Alcohol and Drug Use Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)
  • Video 3 – Screening
  • Video 4 – Brief Interventions – Part I
  • Video 5 – Brief Interventions – Part II
  • Video 6 – Referral to Treatment

For more information on SBIRT, visit the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration SBIRT page.