The Need

Unhealthy substance use and addiction place a major burden on our country’s health, but currently, only people with the most extreme alcohol and drug use problems are recognized as needing treatment.

Professionals in the fields of health, human services, education and criminal justice are positioned to recognize and offer guidance that could change substance use behaviors, but do not routinely broach the topic.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) has long been a key tools for addressing substance use as a public health issue. SBIRT is a research-based approach to prevention, early intervention, education, and treatment referral that can be performed in a variety of settings. However, few people discuss substance use with healthcare providers. In 2014, only 1 in 6 adults reported speaking with a health professional about alcohol in capacity.

The Solution

In 2012, IRETA became the federally-designated National SBIRT ATTC, a subject matter expert and key resource for SBIRT across the country.

In conjunction with partners NORC at the University of Chicago, IRETA provided training and technical assistance to individuals and organizations across the country. Selected activities included:

The Results

IRETA conducted and evaluated close to 400 SBIRT ATTC events between 2012 and 2017 for over 11,000 participants. In surveys, 93% of trainees who provided feedback said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their training, and 93% said their training session’s material was useful to them in dealing with substance use issues.

People have tuned in to online webinars and trainings from all fifty states. Trainings have reached over people representing hospitals, people who serve local or federal government, and those who are affiliated with a school or university. More come from community health centers, addiction treatment providers, and many other settings.

Over 5,900 people subscribed to our national SBIRT newsletter, the SBIRT Alert, which offered regular updates on training, research, and current SBIRT projects.

Praise from SBIRT ATTC Webinar Attendees

“The information was very educational and well presented. [The presenter] was phenomenal and understood firsthand the topic and others areas.”

“The format and clarity of the information provided will help me in passing on the knowledge and skill to my staff.”


After the conclusion of the SBIRT ATTC grant, IRETA has continued to host online courses and a webinar archive that offer SBIRT information.

Using skills and connections built as the SBIRT ATTC, IRETA continues to stream monthly webinars. The live, free events now cover a wider range of topics relating to substance use and addiction.

The SBIRT Alert newsletter has been renamed Upstream Interventions, and disseminates information about both SBIRT and other evidence-based early intervention and prevention strategies.