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HealthCare Role

MT SBIRT Project
Drinking and Your Health
Alcohol Screening
Brief Intervention
Referral Sources
Additional Resources

The healthcare setting is an opportune time to have a positive impact on changing risky drinking behavior among patients. SBIRT is backed by extensive research that demonstrates reduction in alcohol consumption, increased referral into substance abuse & support programs, reduced risk of  injury for individuals who engage in risky drinking.

Excessive Drinking is Dangerous

Most of us don’t have a clear picture of how alcohol can impact our lives and our health. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to be at risk for alcohol-related health problems. Excessive drinking can increase the risk for:

  • Injury
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Liver Disease
  • Alcohol Dependence
  • Death
Problem Drinking is Treatable

Alcohol problems are widely misunderstood. Most alcohol-related injuries involve people who are not dependent on alcohol.  Approximately 4% of US adults are dependent on alcohol, but  20%-25% of adults are not addicted, yet drink in a hazardous way that put them at a high risk for injury and other health problems.
Often hazardous drinkers do not know how much alcohol they can drink safely and do not know how their excessive drinking is hazardous to their health. Medical providers can have a significant impact on helping patients change their drinking habits.

What Are the Steps of SBIRT?

There are three steps to SBIRT; Screening, Brief Intervention & Refer to Treatment. 


SBIRT - Alcohol Screening

Screening for risky alcohol behaviors can be done in any healthcare setting and is most often collected through 1-10 simple short questions. The most common assessment tools  for determining  the patient’s use of alcohol include CAGE, CAGE with Consumption, AUDIT and CRAFFT (these resources will be included on the Screening Page).

Brief Intervention

Brief Intervention

Brief Interventions capitalize on the fact that most people undergoing behavior change do not require formal treatment. Brief interventions typically use three components:

Information or feedback about screening results, BAC upon admission, the link between drinking and a sustained injury or health issue, guidelines for low-risk alcohol consumption, methods for reducing or stopping drinking.

Understanding the patient’s view of drinking & enhancing motivation  to engage the patient in a conversation about what they think about drinking, express how drinking may have contributed to a sustained injury or health issue, what they like and dislike about their current drinking pattern, and how they might want to change their risks.

Clear & respectful professional advice about the need to reduce risk by cutting down or discontinuing drinking. This conversation may include a negotiation between what the clinician thinks is best and what the patient is willing and able to do.

Refer to Treatment

Refer to Treatment

After negotiating with a patient to establish drinking level goals, appropriate referrals may be necessary. For patients who engage in risky drinking behaviors but are not dependant on alcohol, you may want to provide a list of location and national resources such as AA and other support programs & educational information.

More Information

How Cost-Effective is SBIRT?
  • Screening and conducting brief interventions does not require extensive training.
  • For every $1 spent on SBIRT, there is a $4.30 savings on future healthcare costs (ENA, 2010)
  • Net savings of $89 in healthcare costs per patient that was screened (ENA, 2010)
  • Potential impact on personal productivity, lost days at work, and overall community health (ENA, 2010)
Can I Get Reimbursed for Providing Screening & Brief Interventions?

There are reimbursement codes for conducting screening and brief intervention. The MT SBIRT Reimbursement Guideline outlines which codes are excepted by payer type.

Available brochures to download

Montana SBIRT Project Contact Info

Injury Prevention Program Manager
(406) 444-4126

Page last updated 07/01/2014