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The impact of hazardous alcohol and substance abuse can exacerbate medical, mental health, and social problems, resulting in significant public health costs. Research indicates that universal screening and brief intervention (SBI) in healthcare settings (primary care, trauma centers, hospital emergency departments, ambulatory medical practices, etc.) can substantially reduce health and other problems associated with hazardous substance use.


Colorado’s Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment program (SBIRT Colorado) is a federally funded initiative directed at expanding the state’s continuum of care by integrating SBIRT procedures and services into the standard of care practices of primary healthcare settings around the State. In September 2006, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/Center for Substance Abuse Treatment [1] awarded a five-year grant to the Colorado Office of the Governor in conjunction with the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH, formerly Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division (ADAD), and in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), to implement SBIRT practices and procedures in Colorado. The Office of Behavioral Health has contracted Peer Assistance Services, Inc., to manage implementation of the grant throughout the State.


Screening and brief intervention (SBI) for alcohol and other substance use is a technique used by primary healthcare providers to identify and intervene with people who use alcohol or drugs in a harmful or hazardous way, and may be at risk for substance use-related problems or injuries. SCREENING and BRIEF INTERVENTION (SBI) targets individuals who use alcohol and other drugs who may not be abusive or dependent and could reduce their use through early intervention, generally in the healthcare setting; REFERRAL to TREATMENT (RT) provides a mechanism for providing a continuum of care to those individuals identified as having already moved beyond the at-risk threshold and may be in need of some level of substance use intervention or treatment. This approach represents a significant paradigm shift in the substance abuse treatment and healthcare systems to address addiction as a disease like any other and as a preventable healthcare issue.


Universal Screening

A different approach to substance use and health risks associated with it, universal screening treats alcohol and other substance use as the healthcare issue it is, not as a legal issue.


Standard of Care

Proven to be effective in reducing substance use and improving health, SBIRT is an evidence-based standard of care that demonstrates that one interaction can make a difference in someone’s life.

SBIRT Process

Screening all patients for alcohol and other substance using the ASSIST, or other standardized screening tools.

Brief Intervention using motivational interviewing techniques.

Referral to the most appropriate level of care during any phase of the process.


SBIRT Colorado Facts


  • Universal screening requires little effort and time for the patient, healthcare provider and system, but the results are huge: better health, less crowded healthcare system, and reduced healthcare costs.
  • Target population is non-dependent alcohol and other drug users. 
  • Screenings conducted by English/Spanish bilingual Health Educators 
  • SBIRT services are available in healthcare facilities statewide.
  • SBIRT Colorado partnered with the Colorado Clinical Guidelines Collaborative to develop and distribute a clinical guideline for Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT).
  • Health Insurance providers are recognizing the benefits and cost savings, encouraging SBI as a standard of care, and reimbursing for SBIRT service provision.



Anyone receiving medical care at one of the participating partner locations may receive SBIRT services.


NOTE: SBIRT Colorado is not intended or designed to be a treatment resource, but a method of identifying and intervening with those persons who are at risk of encountering problems as a result of their risky alcohol or other substance use.


Healthcare Provider Partnerships

SBIRT Colorado entered its third (3rd) year of operation in September 2008, with services being provided by 11 organizations in a total of 20 clinical settings around the State. Our valued, pioneering, healthcare provider partners include:


Denver Health Medical Center
• Emergency Department, Adult Urgent Care and STD Clinic


Littleton Adventist Hospital
• Emergency Department and Trauma Surgery Floors


St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver
• Trauma Surgery Floors and Orthopedic Floor


St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction
• Emergency Department and Trauma Surgery Floors


Community Hospital in Grand Junction
• Emergency Department and Trauma Surgery Floors


Vail Valley Medical Center
• Emergency Department, Trauma Surgery Floors, Intensive Care Unit and Patient Care Unit


Avon Care Clinic, Avon


High Plains Community Clinic in Lamar


Loveland Community Health Center


Summit County Community Care Clinic in Frisco


The Monfort Family Clinic in Greeley


Other partnerships include:


Colorado Clinical Guidelines Collaborative


OMNI Institute


Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment


Colorado Association of Alcohol and Drug Service Providers


Efforts are ongoing to expand SBIRT services into other primary healthcare settings. For additional information please visit www.improvinghealthcolorado.com.


SBIRT Colorado
(303) 369-0039

 SBIRT Colorado

[1] This project is funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment grant number 1U79TI018302-01, Revised.


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