Click here to check out local career opportunities in behavioral health care

SBIRT: Integrating Behavioral Health Services with Primary Medical Care

Maryland SBIRT is a statewide initiative designed to encourage health care providers and patients to discuss alcohol and drug use as part of routine medical visits. Find SBIRT resources, downloadable posters and brochures, information about SBIRT initiatives  and effectiveness and reimbursement.


What is SBIRT?

SBIRT is a comprehensive public health approach for delivering early intervention and treatment services to individuals with, or at risk of developing substance use disorders. SBIRT is unique in that it promotes universal screening for alcohol and drug use in a variety of clinical and community settings. The SBIRT model is based on the 1999 Institute of Medicine recommendation that called for community-based screening for health risk behaviors, including substance abuse.


According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:

  • 9 million Americans aged 12 or older used illicit drugs within the last 30 days
  • More than 94 % of illicit drug users have never sought treatment
  • 3 million Americans aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year
  • 23% of Americans aged 12 or older reported binge drinking within the last 30 days

What are the Elements of SBIRT?

  • Universal screening: Assesses all patients for risky substance use behavior using standardized screening tools. Screening should be integrated as a routine part of care.
  • Brief intervention: Is provided for patients for whom screening indicates a moderate or high risk. Brief intervention utilizes motivational interviewing techniques focused on enhancing an individual’s motivation to change and provides support to assist with the change.
  • Referral to treatment: Provides referral to substance use treatment programs for additional evaluation and services for those patients who are deemed to be high risk.

Is SBIRT effective?

  • The Office of National Drug Control Policy identified SBIRT as a key strategy for reducing substance use and related consequences in its 2012 National Drug Control Strategy.
  • A 2009 article in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence found a 68% reduction in illicit drug use over a 6-month period among individuals who had received SBIRT services.
  • The US Preventive Services Task Force (2009) found SBIRT effectively reduced heavy drinking episodes in adults and resulted in: reduced weekly alcohol consumption, 12% fewer adults reported heavy drinking episodes, and 11% of adults reported drinking less than the recommended limits over a twelve month period.

The SBIRT Grant

The Grant was awarded to Maryland for five years, within that time the plan is to implement and expand SBIRT into 53 Community Primary Care Centers and two hospitals in 15 jurisdictions across Maryland with the expectation of screening at least 45,000 individuals. Click here to view the summary of the grant. The goals are:

  1. Improve the health status of Marylanders through the integration of behavioral health and medical health care services.
  2. Increase identification of and intervention with individuals with risky substance use.
  3. Demonstrate reduced substance use among individuals who receive SBIRT services.
  4. Reduce overdose deaths and promote health equality through the provision of universal behavioral health prevention and early intervention approaches.
  5. Demonstrate increased capacity to treat substance use disorders in underserved regions of Maryland.

Other SBIRT Resources

SBIRT Grant Overview
SBIRT Research
Screening Tools: AUIDIT-C NIDA Quick Screen Question
Understanding Screening Scores or Visit the NIDA website
Coding for SBIRT Reimbursement
Additional Resources

Contact Bonnie Campbell, SBIRT Project Director – or (410) 637-1900, ext. 7790 for additional information or with questions.