Adolescent Substance Use Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment: Advancing Learning and Knowledge

April 19, 2022

This learning brief explores how the Hilton Foundation’s Initiative has advanced the knowledge base for adolescent SBIRT and discusses the Initiative’s contributions to youth substance use prevention policy and practice. The authors discuss findings including: successful implementation of the SBIRT framework in the settings that provide access to large numbers of youth (schools, school-based health centers, primary care, community-based programming, juvenile justice (JJ) is achievable; the need to screen youth in a wide variety of settings to identify risk for substance use is critical, as a substantial proportion of screenings in these settings indicated a need for brief intervention (BI) (12%) or specialty treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) (2%); many youth-serving providers feel unprepared to address substance use risk for reasons related to lack of knowledge about how to effectively address substance use, limited reimbursement options for services, and issues related to confidentiality; referral to specialty treatment for substance use presents a challenge in terms of limited or even the absence of treatment resources for youth in many areas and requires active development of provider networks and additional services and supports for youth; and prevention and early intervention of youth substance use requires a multifaceted approach, including concurrent identification and intervention for mental health concerns and other risk factors. The paper concludes with a summary of the research studies funded through the Initiative that are still underway.

Abt Associates