Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)

‌The Northern Kentucky University (NKU) SBIRT Health Professions Student Training Project is aimed at developing and providing hands-on training to both undergraduate and graduate students at NKU.  The primary focus is to provide transdisciplinary training to future nurses, social workers, counselors, and human services/addictions workers, who will soon be entering the professional workforce in their chosen capacities.

The three-year federally funded grant from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has several long-term goals:

  1. Develop competency in  healthcare professionals for screening, providing brief interventions, and making referrals to substance use treatment as early interventions for risky substance users
  2. Train 60 NKU students and 300 community providers in SBIRT over three years
  3. Integrate SBIRT screening and best practices into the regional healthcare system
  4. Establish SBIRT as a permanent part of the curriculum of each of the participating NKU disciplines
  5. Develop a web-based clearinghouse for training and access to SAMHSA and SBIRT resources

What is SBIRT?

SBIRT is an evidence-based approach to the delivery of screening, early intervention and treatment to people with substance use disorders and those at risk of developing these disorders.  Screening quickly assesses the severity of substance use; brief intervention focuses on increasing the person’s insight and awareness regarding substance use; and referral to treatment provides those identified as needing more extensive treatment access to specialty care. SBIRT is based on motivational interviewing strategies.

SCREENING: Universal screening for quickly assessing use and severity of alcohol; illicit drugs; and prescription drug use, misuse, and abuse.

SBIRT team members (from left) Linda Wermeling, Amy Shay, Kesha Nelson and David Wilkerson.

BRIEF INTERVENTION: Brief motivational and awareness-raising interventions are most effective for risky or problematic substance users.  Asking permission, assessing readiness to change, and making a plan for change works.

REFERRAL to TREATMENT: Referring those who are high risk or dependent on substances may require a referral to more intensive/specialized substance use treatment.  

Why Use SBIRT?

  • SBIRT identifies the at risk alcohol and drug users, who greatly outnumber the dependent users
  • Risky alcohol and drug use are major preventable public health problems causing over 100,000 deaths annually
  • The social cost of unsafe and risky alcohol and drug use exceeds $600 billion a year
  • Effects of unhealthy and unsafe alcohol and drug use have far-reaching implications for the individual, family, workplace, community, and the health care system.
Why Use?

SBIRT Training

The NKU SBIRT team is funded by SAMHSA to provide training to community healthcare and behavioral healthcare providers in addition to its student training project.  Training is tailored to meet the need of each organization and includes programs from 1-6 hours in length. 

Topics include: Substance Use Screening, Motivational Interviewing, Brief Interventions, Implementing SBIRT in Healthcare Settings, Integrating SBIRT into Psychotherapy, among other topics.  CEUs and Continuing Education credits are available.

For more informations about Staff and Professional Training contact:

David Wilkerson, LCSW, LISW-S
NKU SBIRT Project Director

SBIRT Technical Assistance

The NKU SBIRT team also offers free technical assistance to organizations interested in implementing SBIRT strategies within their settings.  Hospital programs, private physicians, behavioral health and social service agencies can receive assistance with making SBIRT part of your organization’s services.

For more information on Technical Assistance contact:

David Wilkerson, LCSW, LISW-S
NKU SBIRT Project Director

NKU SBIRT Community Partnerships

NKU SBIRT Council of Directors

  • Verl Pope
    EdD, Chair, Counseling Social Work and Leadership
  • Mary Kishman
    PhD, RN, Chair, Department of Nursing
  • Adrianne Lane
    EdD, RN, Chair Department of Advanced Nursing
  • Gannon Tagher
    EdD, MSN, RN, APRN, Director, BSN Program
  • Amy Shay
    MS, CNS, RN, Director, Director, MSN Program
  • Greg Hatchett
    PhD, Director, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program
  • Karen Tapp
    MSSW, JD, Director, Master of Social Work Program
  • Rodney Valandra
    MA, ABD, Director, Human Services Program
  • Tara McLendon
    PhD, Director, BSW Program
  • David Wilkerson
    MSW, Director, SBIRT Project

SBIRT Advisory Committee

  • Dan Cole
    St. Elizabeth Healthcare/ St. Elizabeth Physicians
  • Anna Geiman
    HealthPoint Family Care
  • Stephanie Vogel
    NKY Health Department
  • Heidi Bohman
    Northkey Community Care
  • Cassidy Lekan and Carole Serrone
    Transitions, Inc.
  • Josh Klosterman
    Emergency Shelter of NKY
  • Brian Sergent
    Welcome House of NKY

NKU SBIRT Principal Investigators

  • Kesha Nelson
    MSN/Ed, Professor, Nursing
  • Amy Shay
    MS, CNS, RN, Director, MSN Program Director
  • Linda Wermeling
    MSW, Ph.D., Professor, Social Work
  • David Wilkerson
    MSW, Lead PI, SBIRT Project Director