Grant awarded for student substance use screening

September 09, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) initiative will be available to enhance substance use screening for all University Health Services (UHS) patients who may be at risk for substance use disorder (SUD).

SBIRT is a comprehensive and integrated public health approach which delivers early intervention and treatment services through universal screening for persons with SUD and those at risk of developing these disorders.

“SBIRT will provide an opportunity for students and their providers to discuss substance use habits as part of a comprehensive wellness approach. It will allow us to work cooperatively with Health Promotion & Wellness (HPW) and Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) to offer our students the knowledge and resources to promote healthy decision-making now and in the future”, said Mercedes Boggs, UHS physician.

Support for the initiative is provided by the University of Pittsburgh Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PITT-PERU), and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).

Funded through a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, PITT-PERU, and the PCCD with federal state opioid response funds, the SBIRT initiative will work in conjunction with HPW, CAPS, and Centre County's Single County Authority on Drug and Alcohol to provide substance use screening with the evidence-based method, ASSIST survey.

According to Kara Krebs, LSW medical social worker/ case manager, “This grant has provided us with the necessary tools to facilitate these communications while sharing resources and offering warm hand-off referrals between campus organizations like CAPS and HPW.”

All three departments will have different focuses. HPW will target nicotine cessation, moderate-risk alcohol, and cannabis use; CAPS will assist with high-risk substance use, moderate nonmedical prescription drug use; and UHS case managers will organize referrals within Penn State and to the community.

The goal of the SBIRT grant is to decrease the likelihood of those with moderate and high-risk substance use from developing a SUD.

“The Penn State SBIRT project will enhance student wellness and also create a space for greater collaboration between UHS, HPW, and CAPS” said Rebecca Simcik, UHS interim medical director.

For more information, visit the Pittsburgh SBIRT or SBIRT websites.

Last Updated September 15, 2021