Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment, best known by the acronym SBIRT (ESS-bert) is an approach to reducing and preventing higher-risk substance use. Various approaches to SBIRT have been endorsed by the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, and a number of other authoritative bodies and professional associations.

SBIRT is often referred to as an evidence-based practice, so let’s talk about the evidence. Beginning in 2015, IRETA hosted a three-part webinar series about the body of research on SBIRT for alcohol and other drugs. Three longstanding leaders in the field gave 90-minute online talks and answered questions from viewers all over the world.

These talks and accompanying resources are posted below for anyone to reference. For people who use or hope to implement SBIRT, these resources offer an informed perspective, straight from the experts who know it best.


What is the evidence for drug SBIRT in general health settings and what does it mean?

Presented by Dr. Richard Saitz

This webinar reviews the evidence on SBIRT for other drugs, hazardous use of drugs and drug disorders in general health settings. The bulk of the evidence suggests lack of efficacy. Does this mean that drug use should not be identified in general health settings? If drug use is identified what should be done?


SBIRT: A Look at the Evidence

Presented by Dr. Richard Brown

SBIRT is recommended by numerous authorities yet seldom delivered in an evidence-based manner in most primary care settings.  This webinar reviews research on the effectiveness of various components of SBIRT and strategies for dissemination.  It identifies gaps in existing research and proposes future directions for research and implementation.


Closing the Gap: Addressing Substance Use Disorders in the ED

Featuring Dr. Gail D’Onofrio

Every day, there are more than 1,000 opioid-related visits to ERs across America. Although there is not yet a robust evidence-base for SBIRT to address drug use, a recent study suggests that SBIRT in combination with an immediate prescription for buprenorphine can reduce illicit
opioid use and increase engagement in addiction treatment. This webinar discusses SBIRT as it connects to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.

Putting The Puzzle Together


It’s a Pain to Research SBIRT

“Treating substance use as a public health issue is an important conceptual shift; actually figuring out how to do that is a complex process.”









More Resources