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

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Awards $2 Million Grant to NORC at the University of Chicago to Support Innovative Large Scale Approach to Reducing Substance Use by Young People


The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded a $2 million grant to NORC at the University of Chicago to fund educating future nurses and social workers on the basic skills needed to identify and treat substance use among young people.   

Using the grant, NORC will work with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the Center for Clinical Social Work (CCSW), the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and a consortium of as many as 60 nursing and social work schools to develop and put into practice a substance abuse screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) curriculum for use in nursing and social work education.

“Right now, less than one teen in 20 who has a serious problem with drugs, alcohol, or prescription drugs gets into treatment,” said Eric Goplerud, Senior Vice President, Public Health at NORC. “This grant will enable us to design a curriculum to help address that problem and put it to use in basic courses that every future nurse and social worker will take as part of their training. Our work will ensure larger numbers of caregivers will learn these practical and important skills.” 

SBIRT is a comprehensive approach to spotting and then providing services to young people who may have drug and alcohol problems. It involves a way of quickly screening them, assessing the degree of risk, conducting a brief intervention designed to help motivate them to change their behavior, and refer 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 nursing and social work programs.

A special element of the program will be implementation grants of up to $10,000 to schools to support implementation and evaluation of the adolescent SBIRT as part of their existing undergraduate and graduate level programs.

Other features will include an online, interactive training technology platform and a suite of practical, effective, and easily accessible training modules that can be offered by the schools at no cost to their students.  The new curriculum will be ready for implementation in 2015. 

More information is available at NORC or contact Eric Young at 301-634-9536 or

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