Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) is a procedure designed specifically to identify individuals using unhealthy levels of alcohol and other drugs but not for treating dependency. SBI is directed toward changing an individual’s pattern of use to reduce consumption before a more serious problem develops.

Screening for substance problems with a confidential, standardized questionnaire identifies if an individual’s use places them at risk for developing a problem. If screened positive, a behavioral health specialist will conduct a brief intervention—a manualized, educational, and motivational counseling session between five and 15 minutes in length.

Brief interventions reduce rates of arrest for driving under the influence by 50%, decrease readmission to trauma centers by 50%, and reduce alcohol consumption (Gentilello et al., 1999; Schermer et al., 2006). SBI also cuts health care costs: every $1 spent on SBI in Emergency Departments and hospitals saves almost $4 (Gentilello et al., 2005). The American College of Surgeon’s Committee on Trauma recently mandated all Level I and II Trauma Centers have the capacity to provide screening and all Level I Trauma Centers also have the capacity to provide brief interventions. Like trauma centers the justice system provides a “teachable moment” for getting someone’s attention to address a problem.

For more information on health and social services — See Section 3