Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for persons with substance use disorders, as well as those who are at risk of developing these disorders. Primary care centers, hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers, and other community settings provide opportunities for early intervention with at-risk substance users before more severe consequences occur.

  • Screening quickly assesses the severity of substance use and identifies the appropriate level of treatment.
  • Brief intervention focuses on increasing insight and awareness regarding substance use and motivation toward behavioral change.
  • Referral to treatment provides those identified as needing more extensive treatment with access to specialty care.

Wisconsin SBIRT training

This training program is intended to help motivate and prepare you to deliver evidence-based SBIRT services.  Completion of this training course will qualify you to bill Wisconsin Medicaid for clinical SBIRT services. The training program goes beyond clinical techniques and focuses on best practices for systematizing SBIRT service delivery. The course also includes sources of additional information and learning.

There are three major parts to this educational program.  

  • Part 1 will introduce you to what SBIRT is, what we know about its effectiveness, and what choices you’ll need to make about providing SBIRT in your clinical setting.  
  • Part 2 will focus on clinical skills for delivering SBIRT services.  
  • Part 3 will provide resources and information about implementing SBIRT.

Each of these parts will consist short video modules. At the conclusion of most modules, you’ll be asked to take a quiz, and you’ll be directed by your results to review information that you might have missed the first time through.  

After the last module, you’ll be asked to take a test, which you’ll need to pass to earn a certificate and qualify for Wisconsin Medicaid reimbursement. You’ll be asked to provide some feedback on this educational program, as well.  

For more information on provider types and allowable settings for delivering SBIRT services in Wisconsin, see ForwardHealth Update 2009-96(PDF)  

Part 1: Introduction to SBIRT (60 minutes)


  • What is SBIRT?
  • Continuum of substance involvement
  • Etiology for substance use disorders
  • Reasons to implement SBIRT

Introduction (20 minutes)

Etiology for substance use disorders (20 minutes)

Reasons to implement SBIRT (20 minutes)

Part 2: Clinical skills (150 minutes)


  • Develop initial familiarity and comfort with the SBIRT communication style
  • Identify common screening methods and assessment techniques
  • Understand the key elements of a brief intervention and referral for treatment
  • Develop initial familiarity and comfort with providing brief interventions
  • Practice critical SBIRT communication techniques

The SBIRT approach (30 minutes)

SBIRT communication style in practice (10 minutes)

Screening (20 minutes)

Brief intervention and referral to treatment (20 minutes)

Practice: brief intervention (30 minutes)

Test (30 minutes)

Part 3: Implementation: resources and recommendations (30 minutes)

This section contains tools and resources for the implementation of SBIRT.

Implementation toolkit (30 minutes)

Implementation toolkit (PDF)

SBIRT information

Wisconsin resources

Other resources

Last Revised: August 20, 2021