- Brief intervention is a short counseling session or series of sessions conducted by a trained counselor or healthcare professional.
- Such sessions can succeed in getting people to reduce or curtail alcohol or drug use. Brief intervention can be especially helpful when delivered during teachable moments, such as in an emergency room after an alcohol- or drug-related accident.
Brief intervention is a short counseling session - what some call a "negotiated discussion" - between someone who may have a problem with alcohol and drugs and another person who is trained in doing brief interventions. Healthcare practitioners often refer to SBI - screening and brief intervention - to describe a pair of actions.
First, a trained peer or professional counselor or healthcare professional conducts a screening by asking a series of standardized questions such as "How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?" or "Have you or someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?"
If the screening indicates that the person is engaging in risky behavior, the brief intervention follows. These discussions often make a person awaIf the screening indicates that the person is engaging in risky behavior, the brief intervention follows. These discussions often make a person aware of how harmful their drinking or drug use is to their health and safety and how it affects the well-being of people they live or work with. Counselors or heath care professionals may use a technique called motivational interviewing. In this approach, the counselor helps a person to draw upon his or her own resources and desires to make a change. The counselor will ask about overall lifestyle and health issues, and then ask, for instance, What makes you think you may need to make a change? or What could you do? What are your options? Even though a brief intervention takes just minutes, there is the potential for them to reduce alcohol and drug problems and help engage the patient in treatment.
SBI can be conducted in a healthcare setting, including in the emergency room; in the workplace; at school, or at events such as community health fairs. Doctors know that brief interventions at certain "teachable moments," for instance, immediately after a car crash, can prompt a person to curtail or reduce their risky, nondependent drinking or drug use. The counseling can interrupt the continuum of using that progresses to addiction. It can prompt a person to seek further treatment.
Brief interventions are not a method of treating addiction; they are a significant means of getting the addicted person into treatment.