What is Youth SBIRT?

The Problem  

Drugs and alcohol are big contributors to all leading causes of death among teens.[1],[2]

Teens who use drugs or alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to develop an addiction than those who begin using at age 21 or older.[3]

The Solution

Youth SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) is a set of tools to help identify alcohol or drug problems in young people, and to guide intervention if a problem exists.



Young people are asked about drug or alcohol use through a validated verbal, written or online tool.

Screenings occur in medical offices, community health centers, middle and high schools, college campuses, and  in community-based organizations frequented by young people.

Brief Intervention (BI)

Structured conversations are conducted with young people, if needed. BI’s for young people typically:

Referral to Treatment

Referrals to behavioral health treatment and recovery supports are provided when problematic use is detected.  


1 Greenblatt J.C. Patterns of alcohol use among adolescents and associations with emotional and behavioral problems. OAS Working Paper. Rockville, MD: Office of Applied Studies. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. March 2000. http://www.samhsa.gov/data/nhsda/teenalc/teenalc.pdf
2 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Vital Statistics. Deaths: Leading Causes for 2010. National VitalStatistics Reports. Volume 62, Number 6. December 20, 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr62/nvsr62_06.pdf
3 Grant, BF & Dawson DA. Age at onset of alcohol use and its association with DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: results from the national longitudinal alcohol epidemiologic survey. Journal of Substance Abuse. 1997; 9:103-110.
4 Adolescent Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment for Alcohol and Other Drug Use. Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Abuse Services. 2009. http://www.mcpap.com/pdf/CRAFFT%20Screening%20Tool.pdf
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Planning and Implementing Screening and Brief Intervention for Risky Alcohol Use: A Step-by-Step Guide for Primary Care Practices. Atlanta, Georgia: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/documents/alcoholsbiimplementationguide.pdf
6 Rubak S, Sandbaek A, Lauritzen T, Christensen B. Motivational interviewing: A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of General Practice. 2005; 55(513): 305–12.
7 Carney T, Myers BJ, Louw J, Okwundu CI. Brief school-based interventions and behavioural outcomes for substance-using adolescents. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2014. Issue 2. Art. No.: CD008969.
8 Moyer A, Finney JW, Swearingen CE, Vergun P. Brief interventions for alcohol problems: A meta-analytic review of controlled investigations in treatment-seeking and non-treatment seeking populations. 2002. Addiction. 2002 Mar; 97(3): 279–92.

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