THE TRUTH ABOUT ALCOHOL SCREENING AND BRIEF INTERVENTION
Everyone drinks, it doesn’t really matter and it’s not necessary.
Only 25% of individuals drink at risky levels. Many people drink moderately or abstain from drinking completely.
It takes too much time.
Different members of the healthcare team can be trained to help to carry out alcohol screening and brief intervention including medical assistants, nurses, health educators, behavioral health professionals and primary care clinicians. And the initial screening only takes a few minutes, with a few simple questions.
It doesn’t make a difference.
It is proven that a brief conversation with a healthcare professional during a brief intervention helps to change behavior. Studies show that patients in Colorado reduced their substance use after receiving SBIRT services.
Patients will not be truthful.
The rate of positive screens matches closely the percentage of the population that uses alcohol at risky levels.
Patients will get angry.
Patients were appreciative of, rather than resistant to, the SBIRT process. Follow-up interviews with patients about six months after receiving SBIRT services indicated that the majority of patients believed that SBIRT raised their awareness about the connection between health and substance use.
Substance use has nothing to do with healthcare.
Drinking alcohol above moderate levels contributes to a wide range of health problems including cardiovascular disease, cancer, gastrointestinal diseases, unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, injury, domestic violence, depression and suicide.
It will cost too much.
Rather than costing money, alcohol screening and brief intervention can save money and healthcare usage. Screening has a 400% return on investment within one year.
There isn’t anyplace to send them for help.
Most patients screened do not need to be referred. Behavior change often happens after one brief intervention. Even the screening itself moves individuals toward positive change. Five percent of the population will need a referral to specialty services. SBIRT Colorado and partners developed LinkingCare.org as a simple and quick source for healthcare providers to refer a patients who screens at high risk.
I don’t need to ask everyone, I know who to ask.
The key is to ask everyone because you might not see obvious signs of risky use.
Insurers won’t pay for it.
Seeing the health and cost benefits of SBIRT, the AMA instituted healthcare codes for substance use screening and brief intervention.
-99408 and 99409 for privately insured patients
-G0396 and G0397 for Medicare patients
-For Medicaid reimbursement information, please see this document from the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.