What is SBIRT? SBIRT stands for screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment. SBIRT is a comprehensive intervention program designed to identify and treat individuals that suffer from substance abuse. SBIRT is a highly effective treatment program, consisting of twelve steps designed to reconnect individuals with their positive values, attitudes, behaviors and characteristics. In order to successfully complete the SBIRT treatment program an individual must first receive an evaluation and be referred to treatment. The referral process involves identifying that an individual is suffering from a substance abuse problem and then finding a qualified professional that can determine the most appropriate option for treatment for that individual. Treatment options range from residential or outpatient facilities to support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).


The first step in the SBIRT process is screening. Screening is an initial evaluation that involves assessing the individual’s current status, history, and requires gathering information regarding their substance abuse problem. After an individual is screened and evaluated it is only then that they are referred to treatment.

Brief Intervention

The second step in the SBIRT process is brief intervention. Brief intervention aims to overcome addictive thinking by initially motivating someone to make an effort to change their behavior. This can be accomplished by showing them how they can immediately benefit from a change in their behavior and how it will positively affect others around them.

Referral to Treatment

The third step in the SBIRT process is referral to treatment. Referral to treatment involves finding an appropriate and qualified professional that can determine the best treatment option for that individual based upon their needs.

Signs of Substance Abuse

If you’re considering referring a loved one to the SBIRT program, be sure to look out for some common signs and idicators of substance abuse. Signs of substance abuse can be physical, behavioral, and emotional symptoms. Some common signs of substance abuse are bloodshot eyes, mood swings, needle marks and scars on arms or legs, slurred speech, and poor decision making skills.

Commonly Abused Drugs

The SBIRT process treats all kinds of substance abuse, including alcohol and drug abuse. Some of the most commonly abused drugs and substances include marijuana and hashish, cocaine, prescription drugs, heroin, inhalants, hallucinogens, club drugs and synthetic cannabinoids.

SBIRT Training

The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has recognized the need for professionals to be trained on SBIRT in order to increase the treatment options for substance abuse disorders. SBIRT training is available online at no cost by visiting the SAMHSA website.

The SBIRT program at the University of Utah provides free SBIRT training. SBIRT stands for screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment.