SBIRT in Schools

About SBIRT in Schools

School from Flickr via Wylio

© 2011 jdog90, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) focuses on prevention, early detection, risk assessment, brief counseling and referral for assessment that can be utilized in the school setting. Use of a validated screening tool will enable school health teams to detect risk for substance use related problems and brief intervention strategies will help to address these concerns at an early stage in adolescents.

Legislation Mandating SBIRT in Schools

In March, 2016, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted an Act relative to substance use, treatment, education and prevention (STEP Act) which outlines the requirements for public schools in the Commonwealth to engage in substance use screening and education. Legislation can be found at (see Sections 15, 63, 64, 66).

SBIRT in Schools Training and Support

The MA Department of Public Health School Health Services is providing skills and implementation training to assist school districts in successfully incorporating SBIRT into schools.
See below to register or request a training in your district.

For questions:

Caitlin Pettengill, DNP, RN
Assistant Director of School Health Services
MA Department of Public Health



Training Resources:

MDPH School Health Unit in collaboration with the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services is offering trainings to assist school personnel to implement SBIRT in Schools. The training offerings for the 2019-20 School Year are: 

  • SBIRT in Schools: Introduction to Identifying and Addressing Substance Use (online course + 4.5 hours)- This course introduces learners to SBIRT in Schools programs and how to apply best practices in screening, reinforcing healthy choices, and intervening when students report unhealthy substance use. It includes both live classroom and online training content. Health professionals seeking contact hours and nurses seeking licensure as school nurses must complete all components of this course including:
    1. The online portion of this course describes the impact of substance use on teens, regulatory requirements for conducting verbal substance use screenings in schools, and key elements of the SBIRT in Schools program.
    2. The in-person workshop allows learners to practice SBIRT skills including screening, providing positive reinforcement, conducting brief negotiated interviews using Motivational Interviewing principles, and making referrals.

    This introductory offering is for school professionals who have not yet attended an Introduction to SBIRT Workshop. There is no “Train the Trainer” model for SBIRT in Schools and all those participating in SBIRT should attend.

    Upcoming Trainings- Save the Date!

    February 12, 2020: Wylie Inn and Conference Center, Beverly MA
    February 27, 2020: Boston University- Medical Campus, Boston, MA (just added)
    March 3, 2020: P. Brent Trottier Middle School, Southborough, MA (just added)
    March 24, 2020: John Carver Inn, Plymouth MA
    May 13, 2020: The Delaney House, Holyoke MA

    Visit the SHIELD website for access to the online training and registration for the in-person workshop.

  • SBIRT in Schools: Implementation Essentials (3 hours)- This SBIRT skill building workshop is designed for school health personnel who will be directly involved in implementing SBIRT in their schools. Participants will enhance their skills in conducting Brief Negotiated Interviews (BNI) using Motivational Interviewing (MI) concepts, conducting healthy behavior reinforcement conversations, and performing referrals during the SBIRT process. Challenges identified in a school district’s implementation planning will be discussed and solutions developed. For districts/individuals who have not implemented SBIRT previously.
    Prerequisite: Participants must have attended a six-hour Introduction to SBIRT Workshop to register for this course.
    Visit to request a training for your school/district.
  • SBIRT in Schools: Mastering SBIRT (3 hours)- Mastering SBIRT Workshop is a newly developed 3 hour long skills training to increase confidence and skills in responding to the CRAFFT-II screening results using Motivational Interviewing (MI) techniques.  The training includes discussion and practice of the REACT model for reinforcement of healthy decisions (negative CRAFFT screening) and the Brief Negotiated Interview model to be used for discussion with those students who screen positive for substance use. Discussion about referral, consent and confidentiality as well as a closer look about how to talk to teens about substances will be included. For districts/individuals who have implemented SBIRT previously.
    Prerequisite: Participants must have attended a six-hour Introduction to SBIRT Workshop to register for this course.
    Visit to request a training for your school/district.

    NOTE: Attendance at the Implementation Essentials or Mastering SBIRT courses DOES NOT replace SBIRT in Schools Training: Introduction to Identifying and Addressing Substance Use requirement for DESE licensure for school nurses or the training requirement for school health personnel involved in SBIRT screening. 

  • BSAS Supporting Schools: Strategies for Discussing Substance Use with Students- This training is intended to increase school adjustment counselors, social workers, nurses, guidance counselors, and other school based personnel’s skill in initiating developmentally appropriate conversations with students presenting with substance use related issues at school. The Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA) is a developmentally appropriate treatment model for youth and young adults (12-24 years old) with substance misuse or substance use disorders. A-CRA is an evidence based practice developed by Chestnut Health Systems. The brief treatment model has been adapted to focus on four key A-CRA procedures to support school staff intervening around a student’s substance use, possession, or other behaviors in a school setting; or recognizing if a referral for further consultation or treatment is appropriate. The training will review and demonstrate the A-CRA Functional Analysis of Substance Using Behavior, Increasing Pro-social Recreation, Drink/Drug Refusal Skills, and Sobriety Sampling. Participants will have an opportunity to role play these procedures in small groups using student case vignettes. Register through BSAS training and workforce development programs. 


Register for training at


Request training

To request a Mastering SBIRT or Implementation Essentials training, complete a request form by clicking HERE.

MASBIRT TTA is also available for consultation by request if there are specific technical assistance needs of your district. Submit an online request for a consultation HERE.

DPH & DESE Guidelines and Recommendations:

DESE Office of Student and Family Support Guidance: 

State Requirement for Districts to Implement a Substance Use Related Verbal Screening Tool guidance can be found at

SBIRT in Schools: FAQs

This Frequently Asked Questions document has been prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), in consultation with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), in an effort to answer the questions that arise after attendance at SBIRT training sessions. SBIRT in Schools: FAQ

SBIRT in Schools: Toolkit (New resource!)

A toolkit has been developed to provide streamlined information for the implementaiton of SBIRT in Schools. It is now available on the SHIELD website under the Laws, Regulations and Guidelines section or by clicking HERE


The following videos are examples of SBIRT. For Massachusetts SBIRT in Schools, be sure to use the Guidance and FAQs above for the most up to date information. Videos use actors portraying students. Health professionals are portrayed by professionals who work in the field, and bring their professional experience to the scenarios.



SBIRT Core Training:

Powerpoints: SBIRT in Schools: Introduction to Identifying and Addressing Substance Use
Powerpoints: SBIRT in Schools: Implementation Essentials
Powerpoints: SBIRT in Schools: Mastering SBIRT

    Implementation Resources:



    Treatment Resources

    Massachusetts Department of Public Health Youth and Young Adult Services

    Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline
    800 327-5050
    The Massachusetts Helpline will continue to work with families and other key stakeholders to devise the most appropriate course of action for adolescents and young adults ages 13-24 in need of treatment for their use of substances. Options include:

    1. Placement in a stabilization program
    2. Placement directly at residential programs without a prior stay at stabilization level of care
    3. Referrals to statewide outpatient, community-based Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA) services

    DPH Youth and Young Adult Referral Process Update 8-2017

    DPH Youth and Young Adult Treatment Contact Information for Referrals- updated 10-2018

    DPH BSAS Substance Use Referral Information 4-2019

    Family Support and Guidance Helpline

    Grayken Center for Addiction/Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Family Helpline

    The Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids have teamed up to provide Massachusetts families with the support and information they need to help address a child’s substance use, whether your son or daughter is a teenager living at home or a young adult living independently.

    Accessing Data in Your Community 

    Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS)

    Monitoring the Future

    MA Youth Health Survey

    Metrowest Adolescent Health Survey