Use of SBIRT is supported by worldwide leaders in substance use prevention, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as national organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Pediatric Association (APA).  A substantial body of research supports the effectiveness of SBIRT in addressing risky alcohol use, and a growing number of studies indicate SBIRT’s effectiveness for risky drug use.


SBIRT has historically been delivered in primary care centers, emergency rooms, and community health facilities.  Research has shown screening and brief interventions for alcohol have been equally effective for both males and females1.  Brief interventions have been found to be more effective at reducing risky alcohol use than no counseling and as effective as lengthier and more intensive interventions2.

SBIRT also shows promise for improving alcohol related outcomes for college students3.  A recent meta-analysis of 185 studies found that the beneficial outcomes partnered with the savings in resources from implementing brief alcohol interventions for adolescents and young adults made SBIRT a worthwhile prevention strategy.  The meta-analysis found that young adults that participated in brief alcohol interventions had drank fewer days of alcohol consumption per month and were less likely to experience alcohol related consequences than their peers not receiving brief alcohol interventions.

Specifically, studies have found the following benefits to implementing SBIRT with college students:

  • A reduction in blood alcohol concentration, average number of drinks per setting, and number of drunk episodes per week among college students who received brief interventions in a college student health center setting4.
  • A review of literature suggests benefits to incorporating screening and brief intervention into campus judicial systems as students presenting in this setting are typically at higher risk for experiencing negative consequences related to their alcohol use5.
  • A number of studies show support for the use of web-based or computerized screening and brief interventions among college students6,7.

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