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Preparing the Workforce to Implement SBIRT through Training, Technical Assistance, and Evaluation

Adolescent SBIRT Learner's Guide

As key members of an adolescent’s healthcare team, practitioners in the fields of nursing, social work, medicine, and interprofessional care have an obligation to help prevent and reduce substance use and identify mental health risks with their young patients. Asking about substance use and discussing its impact can prevent many harmful effects to the adolescent’s developing brain and potential future. Asking about mental health and identifying risk early can prevent delay of receiving services and supports. Current and future generations of healthcare professionals need to learn the skills to have these essential conversations with adolescents and young adults about substance use and mental health.

The Adolescent SBIRT Learner’s Guide is a 300+ page comprehensive manual for educators and trainers, practitioners, and students to learn to conduct Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) with adolescents and young adults.


It is a component of the Adolescent SBIRT Curriculum developed by Dr. Tracy L. McPherson and the SBIRT Team from NORC at the University of Chicago (NORC) through support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Newly Released!
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Newly Revised Modules

Learn about the core elements of SBIRT through five comprehensive modules and get guidance on implementing SBIRT with adolescents and young adults for alcohol and drug use, as well as screen for co-occurring mental health risks.

Module 1 provides an overview of the SBIRT model, why it is important for use with youth, and evidence that supports its efficacy and effectiveness. It also highlights the prevalence and impact of substance use and mental health concerns among youth.

Module 2 provides step-by-step guidance on how to administer, score, and interpret commonly used screening tools for substance use and anxiety, depression, and suicide risk.

Module 3 provides an overview of the Brief Negotiated Interview (BNI) model and step-by-step guidance for conducting a brief intervention using Motivational Interviewing skills.

Module 4 provides information on substance use treatment options best suited for youth, identifies unique challenges practitioners encounter when referring, reviews the process of referral using a warm hand-off, and emphasizes the importance of follow-up.

Module 5 provides an overview of key Motivational Interviewing skills used during brief intervention such as asking permission, using OARS (open-ended questions, affirmation, reflective listening, summarizing), assessing readiness to change, and eliciting change talk.

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