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​​​​​Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment​

Alcohol is​ a leading risk factor for injury. Individuals under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be injured, and a large proportion of patients admitted to trauma centers are under the influence of alcohol. Injuries seen as a result of hazardous alcohol consumption levels include, but are not limited to, falls, burns, assaults, motor vehicle crashes, pedestrian injuries, drownings and intimate partner violence.  

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based, comprehensive, integrated approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for people with substance use disorders and people who are at risk of developing these disorders.

SBIRT is a public health practice used to identify, reduce, and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol. Screening quickly assesses the severity of substance use and identifies the appropriate level of response. The brief intervention focuses on increasing insight and awareness regarding substance use and motivation toward behavioural change. Referral to treatment provides those identified as needing more extensive treatment with access to speciality care.

Hospital emergency rooms and trauma centers provide opportunities for early intervention with at-risk substance users before more severe consequences occur.

In 2014, VGH implemented SBIRT for alcohol on its trauma units. The following video provides further information on SBIRT at VGH and how it identifies and treats high-risk drinkers:

For support to implement SBIRT at your site, please email Joanne Sadler, Injury Prevention Program Lead, VGH Trauma Services.​

​Resources for patients:

  • Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (brochure)
  • Safer Drinking Tips During COVID-19 (poster)