Adolescent Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment

CSWE was awarded a subcontract from the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago to support the integration of substance abuse screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) into general undergraduate and graduate social work curricula rather than in advanced practice or specialty classes only. 

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded a $2 million grant to NORC to fund education of future nurses and social workers to give them the basic skills needed to identify and treat substance use among young people. Using the grant, NORC will work with CSWE, the Center for Clinical Social Work, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and a consortium of as many as 60 nursing and social work schools to develop and put into practice an SBIRT curriculum for use in undergraduate and graduate social work and nursing curricula.

What is SBIRT?

SBIRT is a comprehensive approach to recognizing and providing services to young people who may have drug and alcohol problems. It involves quickly screening young people, assessing the degree of risk, conducting a brief intervention designed to help motivate them to change their behavior, and referring them to treatment if necessary. Research has shown the SBIRT process works well with adults and that it is a highly promising approach for working with younger people. Despite its promise, the approach is not yet widely taught in social work and nursing programs.


NORC will fund stipends of up to $10,000 to schools that support the implementation and evaluation of adolescent SBIRT through an online interactive training technology platform and a suite of practical, effective, and easily accessible training modules. Programs participating in the Adolescent SBIRT Learning Collaborative will be able to apply for these stipends in 2016.

Learning Network

All schools are invited to participate in a learning collaborative with NORC to share their experiences, learn from other educators about integrating substance abuse education into existing curricula, and obtain additional resources and materials. 

If you would like to discuss or learn more about this collaborative project, please contact CSWE staff.

Upcoming Events

Now Accepting Applications! NORC at the University of Chicago is working with CSWE, the Center for Clinical Social Work, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and technology partner Kognito to develop and evaluate an adolescent SBIRT curriculum for nursing, social work, and interprofessional education programs. The program is open to educators and trainers of associate, baccalaureate, master's and/or doctoral level students. Participants will receive FREE access to adolescent SBIRT training materials and to the online SBI with Adolescents simulation.

Webinar on Innovative Approaches to Engaging Health Professionals and Students in Substance Use Screening and Brief Intervention. Join Dr. Eric Goplerud and Dr. Tracy McPherson, NORC, BIG Initiative, on February 25, 2015, at 3:00 pm ET to learn about challenges and best practices for conducting SBIRT, including integrating interactive simulations with virtual patients. Ron Goldman, Kognito co-founder and CEO, will discuss the benefits of using virtual humans in the development and assessment of SBIRT competencies. This event will include a demonstration of At-Risk in Primary Care, a simulation used by several state departments of health to train nurses and primary care providers in SBIRT, as well as research findings analyzing its effects on skills, self-efficacy, and behavior. Please use this link to register. Participants will also learn how to partner with NORC and Kognito on a new grant opportunity from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency to develop and implement training programs to teach SBIRT to students in health professions.

March 9: Reducing Teen Substance Misuse: What Really Works

March 17: SBIRT for Youth Learning Community. Featuring Tracy McPherson, PhD, from NORC at the University of Chicago's Integrating Adolescent SBIRT Education in Social Work and Nursing Education Project. Dr. McPherson will review the newly released Adolescent SBIRT Instructor's Toolkit for Social Work, Nursing, and Other Educators.


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