Resources for Primary Care Physicians

SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment)

Presentations from 2005 CSAM Conference for Primary Care Physicians


TIP 24: A Guide to Substance Abuse Services for Primary Care Clinicians

The goal of this TIP is to recommend guidelines for primary care clinicians to follow in caring for patients with alcohol and other drug use disorders. These guidelines were developed by a Consensus Panel of clinicians, researchers, and educators who work on the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders. Protocols are based partly on research evidence, partly on Panel members' clinical experience.  Access online version

Clinician's Guide for Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has released a new guide for health care practitioners to help them identify and care for patients with heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders. Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much: A Clinician's Guide is now available free online ( and in print, with a pocket version included.

About 3 in 10 U.S. adults drink at levels that increase their risk for physical, mental health, and social problems. Of these heavy drinkers, about 1 in 4 currently has alcohol abuse or dependence. Although relatively common, these alcohol use disorders often go undetected in medical and mental health care settings. When effective methods are used for alcohol screening and brief interventions, however, research shows they can promote significant, lasting reductions in drinking levels and alcohol-related problems.

The 2005 edition of the Guide provides a research-based approach to alcohol screening and brief intervention for both primary care and mental health clinicians. It updates earlier NIAAA guidelines, which focused solely on primary care providers and used a lengthier screening process.

In the new Guide, alcohol screening is simplified to a single question about heavy drinking days. If a patient drinks heavily (5 or more drinks in a day for men or 4 or more for women), the Guide shows how to assess for symptoms of alcohol abuse or dependence. Whether the patient has an alcohol use disorder or is a heavy, at-risk drinker, theGuide offers streamlined, step-by-step guidance for conducting brief interventions and managing patient care.