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SBIRT: A Year of Progress

Consider this: People who begin using addictive substances before age 15 are nearly seven times more likely to develop an addiction, compared to those who start after age 21.

That means until we address addiction as a problem that confronts children—not just adults—this disease will continue to claim more of our nation’s youngest generation.

That’s why last summer, Shatterproof announced a grant to help pilot early intervention and prevention programs in schools across America. These programs brought evidence-based SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) systems into a youth environment for the first time.

One year later, we’re proud to update you on some of the fantastic progress that has already been made by advocates, thanks in part to Shatterproof’s grant.

  • The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a bill that requires SBIRT drug and alcohol screenings to be conducted by school nurses in all schools throughout the state in grades 7 through 10. Now, advocates are turning their attention to getting the bill passed in the Massachusetts House.
  • In Wisconsin, six new schools are preparing to introduce SBIRT early next year based on both our advocacy and early successes. Thanks to this progress, more children will be reached with the help they need.
  • Advocates in New Jersey and Georgia are working with members of their state legislatures to promote SBIRT through new laws and policy change. Though the conversation is just beginning, the goal is to create a sustainable and effective change in the way these states approach youth substance abuse.
  • Ohio advocates are working with school officials and community coalitions to increase education about SBIRT and lay the groundwork for a legislative study committee, the first step toward meaningful action.

These are just a few of the wins we’ve already seen — and we’re confident that more will soon follow. Advocates are now planning a SBIRT Learning Tour to educate critical policymakers in five target states, and they continue to work tirelessly to promote legislation that will put SBIRT into the schools and youth centers where it can help save lives.

It’s our responsibility to protect our children from the disease of addiction. These successes bring us closer to realizing that goal. We look forward to bringing you more updates in the future.