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Stop Youth Substance Use Early | NH Children's Behavioral Health Collaborative

Stop Youth Substance Use Early

Recognition of substance use can be a crucial moment for a young person’s behavioral health – how New Hampshire providers can make all the difference in how they react when a youth provides information that he or she is using drugs and alcohol.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment for New Hampshire Youth

Four out of ten youth substance users develop a substance use disorder later in their lives.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) aims to stop youth substance use early and decrease substance use disorders.

How the SBIRT screen works… 

SBIRT functions as an intervention tool for youth ages 12 to 20.

The screening consists of a number of questions targeted at uncovering problematic behaviors with alcohol and other drugs. A health care professional then reviews the screen with the patient; enforcing good behaviors, educating on the negative health effects of risky behaviors, and referring the patient for treatment when necessary.

From start to finish, the SBIRT screening takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes for routine brief interventions and 15 to 30 minutes for the initial referral for treatment.  

Breaking down barriers between substance use and treatment

The Institute of Medicine estimates that more than 95% of individuals with alcohol abuse or dependence were unaware of their problem and unaware of how their substance use related to other problems they were experiencing.

This is because—traditionally—physicians treat for substance use disorders only after a patient has self-identified as having one. The SBIRT screening helps break down the barriers between substance use and treatment.

“While SBIRT has not been universally used for younger populations, preliminary studies indicate it is a powerful tool to identify youth engaging is risky substance use behaviors,” said Michele Merritt, policy director at New Futures. “SBIRT will allow New Hampshire pediatricians to better address and more closely monitor the behavioral health needs of children.”

New Hampshire youth have a lot to gain from SBIRT…

  • New Hampshire ranked 2nd highest for young adult binge drinking
  • New Hampshire ranked 9th highest in the country for youth marijuana use
  • New Hampshire ranked 2nd highest in the country for underage drinking

Findings from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

Who is working on SBIRT…

The Conrad H. Hilton Foundation and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation have shown tremendous support for this initiative. New Futures and the NH Center for Excellence are working to implement SBIRT in New Hampshire. 

Contact Information 

For more information on SBIRT contact Michele Merritt, policy director at New Futures or Amy Pepin, SBIRT consultant at the NH Center for Excellence.