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    Interview tool can help determine if a patient has substance use problem
    SBIRT site promotes nonjudgmental dialogue between Marylanders, their providers


    Baltimore, MD (April 8, 2016) – Consumers and health care providers have a new online resource with a rich array of information about an alcohol-and-drug-use screening and intervention service being implemented at primary care centers in Maryland. This new site offers resources for consumers and health practitioners on how to discuss the impact of alcohol and drug use on overall health and well-being. 

    The new website, marylandsbirt.org, offers information about the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) tools that providers and consumers can use to screen for problematic alcohol and drug use and to learn ways to “change the conversation” between patients and health care practitioners. 

    SBIRT is a nationally recognized, evidence-based practice that has been implemented at six primary health care organizations with 22 locations across seven Maryland jurisdictions. Electronic Health Record systems in all participating organizations were modified to integrate SBIRT screening tools, service-delivery documentation and reports. This early-intervention practice facilitates open and nonjudgmental discussions between patients and primary care providers regarding the effect of alcohol and or drug use on health conditions. The project will continue to expand throughout the state in the next three years with additional health clinics and several hospital emergency departments participating in the project. 

    By asking five simple questions, health care providers are able to assess patients’ risks for misuse of alcohol or drugs and to offer education and motivational discussions that can help patients reduce use or seek treatment if needed. While some providers do typically ask patients about their use of alcohol and drugs, others are hesitant to have the conversation. In the SBIRT model, health care providers are given tools and resources to assist in having this conversation. 

    “We are excited about the SBIRT project and about marylandsbirt.org. Both support a public health approach to comprehensive health services that reduce risk through early intervention, that inform patients and that refer to specialty care when needed,” said Dr. Gayle Jordon-Randolph, the Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “For many patients, an open discussion with a health care provider who is prepared to assist with resources to educate and motivate change is a major step to reducing the risk of substance use-related consequences.” 

    The Maryland SBIRT project is led by Health and Mental Hygiene’s Behavioral Health Administration Office of Prevention and Wellness Services and is managed by Behavioral Health System Baltimore, with funding from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Mosaic Group, a Baltimore-based health care consulting firm, is leading the implementation and technical assistance for SBIRT in all sites statewide.  

    For more information, contact Karol Harmon, Maryland State SBIRT Contract Manager, at 410-402-8662 or karol.harmon@maryland.gov. 

    Marylanders who need help finding substance abuse treatment resources should visit http://goo.gl/elUyXi or call the Maryland Crisis Hotline, which provides 24/7 support, at 1-800-422-0009. For information on many of the policies currently implemented to fight addiction and overdose in Maryland, see http://goo.gl/NqmruX.




    The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is the state government agency that protects Maryland’s public health. We work together to promote and improve the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management, and community engagement. Stay connected:  www.twitter.com/MarylandDHMH  andwww.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH. ​