top of page
Counseling session

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

About Us

BIG Initiative logo
The BIG Initiative is a campaign that engages many of the leading EAP vendors, businesses, EAP professionals, and benefits consultants who are working together to advance the use of SBIRT across the EAP industry. 

The intent is to make alcohol screening and brief intervention a routine practice across the field.

The BIG Initiative is part of the National SBIRT-ATTC, a SAMHSA-funded center that provides information on the latest research-based best practices related to SBIRT and coordinates national efforts to advance SBIRT.  As the National SBIRT-ATTC, we partner with the Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions (IRETA) to offer an SBIRT Suite of Services for an interdisciplinary audience.

Mission

The BIG (Brief Intervention Group) Initiative is committed to changing the practice of Employee Assistance Programs and other workplace health and wellness programs so that screening for hazardous alcohol use and effective alcohol counseling, treatment and recovery supports are universal practices in the US and Canada. The BIG Initiative is a campaign dedicated mobilizing the entire EAP industry – clinicians, EAP companies and employers – to work together to make screening and brief counseling for hazardous alcohol use routine practice for employers across North America.

History of The BIG Initiative

Drs. Eric Goplerud and Tracy McPherson at the Center for Integrated Behavioral Health Policy at The George Washington University (GW) initiated the pulling together of top leaders in the EAP Field to facilitate the advancement and utilization of SBIRT, a short brief instrument for the screening of alcohol use/abuse. The unveiling of this initiative began in the Fall 2009 at an EAPA Conference in Dallas.  Since that time over 100 EAP professionals, vendors and academics have joined the ranks of this ambitious project.  The goal being to make alcohol screening and brief intervention a routine practice across the field throughout all of North America.

 

A grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) initially underwrote the organizing costs of the BIG Initiative.  Since its initial meeting at the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) conference fall, 2009, the BIG (Brief Intervention Group) Initiative has organized a campaign that includes employers, the largest national EAP vendors, many regional and internal corporate EAPs, clinical professional associations, Federal and state agencies, benefits consultants, and researchers.  The focus of BIG is to make alcohol screening and brief intervention for problem drinking the universal practice of the industry. 

 

In 2012, we became part of the National SBIRT-ATTC, a SAMHSA-funded center that provides information on the latest research-based best practices related to SBIRT and coordinates national efforts to advance SBIRT.  As the National SBIRT-ATTC, we partnered with the Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions (IRETA) to offer an SBIRT Suite of Services for an interdisciplinary audience.

Goals

The BIG Initiative is a national organization of individuals and organizations joining together to promote routine screening for hazardous alcohol use and brief solution-focused counseling in every EAP and workplace health and wellness program.  Our progress towards this ambitious goal can be seen on the BIG Initiative’s Strategic Plan.

Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI)

Risky, hazardous, and harmful drinking are associated with physical and emotional health problems, alcohol-related traffic crashes, alcohol-impaired driving, accidents, and alcohol-involved violence. The financial burden of substance abuse to the U.S. economy is about $190 billion annually in lost productivity, injury, disease, law enforcement, and criminal justice. The majority of at-risk drinkers are employed full or part-time. EAPs are uniquely positioned to identify and intervene early with at-risk employees before their drinking results in adverse consequences or they become alcohol dependent.

SBI uses a brief, valid, scientific, screening (five minutes or less) to identify whether drinking places an employee at risk for negative consequences. Depending on the results from the screening questions, the EAP clinician may provide health education, simple advice, motivational counseling, help with an action plan or a referral for treatment. Although SBI is not a treatment for alcohol dependence, it can be help workers with serious alcohol problems to follow through on treatment referrals.  SBI is especially well-suited for employees and family members who drink at unhealthy or hazardous levels.

The curriculum would not have been possible without funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)/ Department of Transportation, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT/SAMHSA) and unrestricted educational grants from Alkermes, Inc., Diageo, Inc. and corporate sponsors of the BIG Initiative.  More than 150 employers, business coalitions, employee assistance and behavioral healthcare companies, substance use treatment programs, professional associations, researchers, benefits consultants and workplace wellness experts who actively participate in the BIG Initiative provide the real world laboratories for the tools and techniques presented in this training program.  We are grateful for the outpouring of encouragement, advice and support we receive from these organizations and, especially, from the clinicians who have tested, probed and improved everything in this training program.  

Curriculum Developers

Since 2009, Dr. Eric Goplerud, Dr. Tracy McPherson and staff at the Center for Integrated Behavioral Health Policy and Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems at George Washington University and at NORC at the University of Chicago have been among the most visible leaders in the country.  They work with employers, health insurers, accrediting bodies and government agencies on policy, training and quality improvement initiatives that are transforming employers’ and health insurers’ approaches to detecting and treating alcohol, prescription opiate and illicit drug use.  

EAPA logo

Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA)

Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) is the world’s largest, oldest and most respected membership organization for employee assistance professionals.  With members in over 35 countries around the globe, EAPA is the world’s most relied upon source of information and support for and about the employee assistance profession.  EAPA publishes the Journal of Employee Assistance, hosts professional conferences and offers training and other resources to fulfill its mission.  EAPA’s mission is to promote the highest standards of EA practice and the continuing development of employee assistance professionals, programs and services.

NAADAC logo

NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals

NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals is the largest membership organization serving addiction counselors, educators and other addiction-focused health care professionals, who specialize in addiction prevention, treatment, recovery support and education.  With 8,000 members and 43 state affiliates, NAADAC's network of addiction services professionals spans the United States and the world.  NAADAC's members work to create healthier individuals, families and communities through prevention, intervention, quality treatment and recovery support.

CCLW logo

Center for Clinical Social Work (CCSW)

Center for Clinical Social Work (CCSW) promotes clinical social work as a profession that is highly respected and clearly defined in terms of the rights of its members, the standards to which they adhere and the unique abilities they bring to the challenge of helping others. 

aaap logo

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP)

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) is an international academic society that was founded in 1985 with approximately 1,000 members.  AAAP's mission is to promote accessibility to the highest quality treatment for all who need it; promote excellence in clinical practice in addiction psychiatry; educate the public and influence public policy regarding addictive illness; provide continuing education for addiction professionals; disseminate new information in the field of addiction psychiatry; encourage research on the etiology, prevention, identification and treatment of the addictions. 

asam logo

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) is a professional society founded in 1954 that represents close to 3,000 physicians with chapters nationwide.  ASAM’s mission is to increase access to and improve the quality of addiction treatment; to educate physicians, other health care providers and the public; to support research and prevention; to promote the appropriate role of the physician in the care of patients with addiction; and to establish addiction medicine as a recognized medical specialty.  

easna logo

Employee Assistance Society of North America (EASNA)

Employee Assistance Society of North America (EASNA) is a tri-national professional association (Canada, United States, and Mexico) with membership who are individuals, organizations, employers and students interested in advancing knowledge, research and best practices toward achieving healthy and productive workplaces.

NORC at the University of Chicago logo

NORC at the University of Chicago

Employee Assistance Society of North America (EASNA) is a tri-national professional association (Canada, United States, and Mexico) with membership who are individuals, organizations, employers and students interested in advancing knowledge, research and best practices toward achieving healthy and productive workplaces.

Additional Contributors

Many others contributed their time to researching, writing and editing this training program:

 

  • American Substance Abuse Professionals (ASAP) is a national provider of drug-free workplace and substance abuse risk management services.  ASAP supplies SAP and SAE evaluations for DOT and NRC regulated employees, substance abuse testing and training services for employers, and online training courses for providers.

  • Michael Brooks, MSW, BCD, has been a practicing Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 1980.  He is the Director of Policy and Business Development for the Center for Clinical Social Work and the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work.  Brooks is a former Board member of the Employee Assistance Society of North America (EASNA) and was a contributing author to the SBIRT training.

  • Kathryn Cates-Wessel is the Executive Director of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.

  • Denise Ernst, PhD, is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in Motivational Interviewing and has extensive experience teaching EAP clinicians to use MI approaches that work with alcohol and drug problems. 

  • Abdel Fahmy, MD, CPHIMS, is board certified in Internal Medicine, Palliative Medicine and Addiction Medicine.  Prior to his current position with the DuPage Medical Group, he served as the Regional Medical Director and Medical Director for Substance Abuse at ACCESS Community Health, the US’s largest community health organization serving the Chicago metropolitan area.  Dr. Fahmy has served as the Principal Investigator for multiple SAMHSA grants including an SBIRT grant for medical residents targeting three Chicago-area teaching hospitals.  

  • Denise Hall, MS, NCC, ASE, is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and adjunct faculty member in the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University.  She is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers with extensive experience training and implementing motivational interviewing and other evidence-based practices within organizations. 

  • Hanley Center Inc.’s mission is to advance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of alcoholism, chemical dependency and addictive behavior, including support for related research and education, with a special emphasis on treating the substance use problems of older adults. 

  • Lee Mauk coordinates Blair Consulting Group’s drug and alcohol program consultations.  He develops and writes drug and alcohol programs and policies for employers, in compliance with state and federal laws, and reviews existing policies.  Mr. Mauk is especially knowledgeable and well-versed in the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations regarding drug and alcohol testing.  Lee’s nationally-acclaimed SAP training is a regular offering of Blair Consulting Group’s training courses.

  • Cynthia Moreno Tuohy is the Executive Director of NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals.  She has previously served as President of NAADAC, Certification Board Commissioner, International Chair, Treasurer and Legislative Chair for NAADAC.

  • National Association for Children of Alcoholics’ (NACoA) mission is to eliminate the adverse impact of alcohol and drug use on children and families by working to raise public awareness, providing leadership in public policy, advocating for effective education and prevention services and facilitating and advancing professional knowledge and understanding. 

  • Michele A. Packard, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and licensed addictions counselor.  She is the Executive Director of Sage Training & Consulting, providing continuing education training to the field since 1983.  She is a contributing author in the Motivational Interviewing text. 

  • Peer Assistance, Colorado State Employee Assistance Program and SBIRT Colorado provides clinical service and training organizations that delivers EAP and substance use screening, brief intervention, and treatment throughout the state of Colorado.  

  • Jan Price, LCSW, CEAP, is the Manager of Professional Learning Resources for the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA).  Price was former President (2007 & 2008) and Vice President (1997 & 1998) of the North Georgia chapter of EAPA.

  • Brie Reimann, MPA, is the Program Director for the screening, brief intervention, referral to treatment program in Colorado.  She is employed by Peer Assistance Services, Inc., a non-profit organization in Denver dedicated to providing quality, accessible prevention and intervention services in workplaces and communities, focusing on substance use and related issues.

  • Gerry Schmidt, MA, LPC, MAC, the Vice President and Chief Development Officer at Valley HealthCare System since September 1980, has been in the mental health and addictions treatment profession for over thirty five years.

  • SMART Recovery is the leading self-empowering addiction recovery support group.  Participants learn tools for addiction recovery based on the latest scientific research and participate in a world-wide community, which includes free, self-empowering, secular and science-based, mutual-help support groups.

  • Misti Storie, MS, LPC, NCC, MAC, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Georgia and was the Director of Training and Professional Development for NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals. She developed webinars, training manuals and other educational products for addiction professionals.  

bottom of page