Funder: Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Author: Pamela Winkler Tew, MSS and Rachel Yard, Center for Health Care Strategies

June 2019 | Brief


Adolescence is often a period for risky behavior and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, and illegal substances. As a population, adolescents are more vulnerable than adults are to addiction and are at high risk of experiencing lifelong chronic health issues related to substance abuse. Misuse of drugs and alcohol can be major contributing factors to serious health problems, mental illness, suicide, accidents, and decreased life expectancy. Despite these facts, Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), an evidence-based strategy for addressing substance use, is underused with adolescents.

This brief is part of the SBIRT Learning Collaborative, led by the Center for Health Care Strategies in partnership with the Association for Community Affiliated Plans and with funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which assisted seven safety net health plans in increasing SBIRT in primary care settings for adolescent Medicaid beneficiaries. Drawing from the experiences of the participating health plans, this brief examines considerations for integrating SBIRT in the primary care setting for adolescents, including: (1) provider engagement; (2) provider training strategies; (3) coding and billing for SBIRT; and (4) measurement.