Screening & Brief Interventions for Preventing Youth Substance Use

Screening & Brief Interventions for Preventing Youth Substance Use

A new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health (2022) assessed whether screening and brief intervention with referral to treatment (SBIRT) is associated with positive changes in substance use, risky use, and educational/employment outcomes for youth in community-based settings that are not healthcare focused. 

Youth significantly reduced Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test and Drug Abuse Screening Test scores, positive screens, and need for referrals to treatment, indicating less risky substance use, although self-reports of substance use in the past 30 days did not decrease. 

Proportionately more youth in SBIRT programs attained a high school diploma or equivalent and were still in educational/job placements 3 months after program completion, compared to youth in non-SBIRT programs. 

The author’s concluded that SBIRT appears to be an evidence-based approach to intervene and help youth in community-based settings. 

Like SBIRT, Prevention Plus Wellness (PPW) programs use an evidence-based practices screening and brief intervention format for preventing youth and young adult substance use. 

Key differences between PPW and SBIRT models are that PPW programs: 

  • Use screening surveys to increase youth health behavior awareness
  • Promote protective healthy behaviors along with substance use avoidance
  • Provide all youth with positive image feedback on targeted health behaviors
  • Use multiple behavior goal setting to increase self-regulation skills
  • Employ easy-to-follow program scripts and slides
  • Can be implemented to youth individually or in groups, in-person or online 

PPW provides an alternative and more wholistic screening and brief intervention model for preventing youth substance use AND increasing healthy lifestyle behaviors like physical activity, nutrition, sleep and stress control. 

However, both PPW and SBIRT can be used to help youth avoid dangerous substance use and problems.   

For more information about PPW’s logic model and theory: 

To read the published SBIRT research paper: 

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.