The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received a five-year, $7.5 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to fund a new program that helps communities provide a more comprehensive approach to substance use disorders. Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) will provide local community health centers and the Iowa National Guard the ability to screen for substance use and provide secondary prevention, early intervention, and referrals to treatment for people at a higher risk for substance abuse.
“This program’s goal is to help reduce substance abuse, the number one most preventable health problem,” said SBIRT coordinator Michele Tilotta. “Through the screening process, those identified as hazardous drinkers can be offered advice and encouragement to reduce their drinking and seek treatment, when needed.” The purpose of SBIRT is to promote safer drinking patterns or abstinence in hazardous drinkers, with the assumption that those changes may prevent future alcohol-related consequences, including medical, social, psychological, or legal problems.
Consistent with the public health approach and the Governor’s goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation, the SBIRT partnership of physicians, nurses, hospitals, community organizations and state agencies has the potential to improve the health outcomes of thousands of Iowans each year.
The estimated yearly cost of healthcare, lost productivity, criminal justice involvement, property damage and loss of life due to alcohol abuse and dependence is more than $185 billion in the U.S. Nearly 30 percent of Americans, though not dependent on alcohol or drugs, consume at a level that increases their risk for physical, mental and social harm. SBIRT research indicates the use of screening and brief intervention can significantly decrease high risk drinking and its consequences.
To learn more about how IDPH works to prevent and treat substance abuse in Iowa, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/bh/substance_abuse.asp.