Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)

At ACCESS we practice universal screening for alcohol and substance use.

Just as checking blood pressure can reveal health issues and guide recommendations for a healthier lifestyle, universal screening for alcohol and substance use helps us recognize an existing health problem before it worsens or becomes fatal.

These screenings are done with the SBIRT model of care, which stands for Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment. SBIRT is a method for delivering early intervention and treatment services to people with, or at risk of developing, alcohol and substance use disorders.

Through support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and The Chicago Community Trust, ACCESS is integrating the SBIRT model into care provision at all ACCESS health centers throughout the Chicago area.

SBIRT is a three-part process:

1. Screening

We've trained our providers and Care Team members to administer best practice screening tools that assess for problematic alcohol and substance use. This is done in an atmosphere that reduces stigma and educates our patients to expect this service as part of excellent comprehensive primary care.

2. Brief Intervention

For patients identified as having potential alcohol or substance use problems, our providers employ interview techniques focused on raising patients' awareness of alcohol and substance use problems, educating them about potential medical consequences and encouraging positive behavioral changes. Our Behavioral Health Consultants are also an important resource in assisting patients to assess their readiness to make a change; strengthen problem-solving skills; initiate and maintain behavioral change; and to help them build supportive social environments.

3. Referral to Treatment

Patients who are at high risk are offered referrals to treatment programs within our organization, such as our Suboxone program, which provides medication and counseling for people working to overcome opiod addictions. If necessary, patients are sometimes referred to other programs within the community.

Seeking to promote patient autonomy and empowerment. SBIRT encourages collaboration between providers and patients, as they work together toward the best possible health outcomes and a healthier life for patients. SBIRT also increases the integration of behavioral health within primary care, which is a hallmark of ACCESS' nationally recognized patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model.

Universal screening helps reduce the number of people who move from alcohol and substance use to addiction and lessens the stigma of discussing and identifying alcohol and substance use problems by normalizing the screening process.

How We Can Help

If you or someone you know has questions about or is struggling with alcohol or substance use, seek help and schedule an appointment with your care provider today.

Make An Appointment


As of February 28, 2023