Posts Tagged ‘sbi’


Alcohol Awareness Month: A Doctor’s Call To Action

April 7, 2010

The following is a press release from the Maine Association of Substance Abuse Programs (MASAP). Each week during April, we will feature a different theme in recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month. The first theme is Alcohol Screening.

Augusta, ME – April is Alcohol Awareness Month and one important step in awareness is to screen for alcohol and other drug problems. Screening and Brief Interventions (SBI) are a critical tool for medical and health care professionals. Routine SBI’s could save lives while assisting individuals seeking medical attention in Emergency Rooms get the help they need. According to a 2008 report from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, SBI is one of the top 5 cost saving reductions.

Dr. George Dreher, who has worked as a Family physician, an Emergency Department physician, as a Psychiatrist, and in Addiction Medicine (including at Crossroads for Women‘s outpatient office in Portland) released an open letter to the medical and health care community in Maine. In his remarks, Dr. Dreher addresses some of the major problems we face as a state and as a society around alcohol and other drug use and abuse.

How common is the problem? According to a National Household Survey:

  • 29% of Maine youth age 12-20 drink and 20% binge drink
  • 7.59% of people 12 and older meet the criteria for alcohol dependence or abuse and 3.17% meet the criteria for drug dependence or abuse
  • 14% of people 18-25 have used a prescription pain reliever non-medically

Maine is one of only seven states where past month use of any illicit drug other than marijuana exceed 10%. Compared to Maine:

  • Only four states have a higher drug dependence rate for people 18-25
  • Only three states have a higher drug dependence rate for people 12-17
  • Only two states have greater rates of past month marijuana use among 12-17 year olds

“Having primary care providers, emergency departments, and other healthcare professionals asking the right questions about alcohol and drug use every time can save lives ” Ruth Blauer, Executive Director of the Maine Association of Substance Abuse Program remarked.

And she is right. Dr. Dreher concludes his letter by stating “Patients often try to change their substance use habits because a health care provider educates them about the associated risks and expresses concern for their health. If the patient is unable to reduce or quit their use then you can refer them to professional treatment. ”

One resource is Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much: A Clinician’s Guide with Free CME/CE Credits (NIAAA).

Dr. Dreher closes his letter with a call to action “Your intervention in these individuals’ substance use may improve not only their health but the emotional health of those around them, reduce health care costs, and improve the safety of your community”

The Maine Association of Substance Abuse Programs, Inc. (MASAP) is a non-profit membership organization recognized state-wide and nationally as the voice of substance abuse and addictions in Maine. MASAP represents and advocates for the continuum of substance abuse and addictions services throughout Maine, from prevention through treatment to recovery. To learn more about MASAP please call 207-621-8118 or visit us at


Screening and Brief Intervention Billing Codes for Physicians

June 5, 2008

Screening for a drug or alcohol problem in the doctor’s office seems like a logical and appropriate thing to do. However, only 8.7% of problem drinkers report receiving such screening or advice from their doctors. Physicians now have an incentive to do Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) because this service is now billable:

  • American Medical Association created codes 99408 (15-30 minutes) and 99409 (over 30 minutes interaction) for alcohol and/or substance use structured screening and brief intervention services

So what is a brief intervention? For alcohol, one example would be to use the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) one question:

How many times in the past year have you had 5 or more drinks in a day (men); 4 or more drinks in a day (women)?

To determine if there needs to be some sort of intervention, the following must be kept in mind:

  • One standard drink = 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits
  • Drinking limits for healthy women to age 65 = no more than 3 drinks in a day AND no more than 7 drinks in a week
  • Drinking limits for healthy men to age 65 = no more than 4 drinks in a day AND no more than 14 drinks in a week

The 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 21.1 million people needed, but did not receive, treatment for illicit drug or alcohol use. 95.5% felt they did not need treatment. A brief talk with their doctor may be enough to change their mind (and their lives).

Source: TIPS & TOPICS from David Mee-Lee, M.D., Volume 6, No.1, April 2008

More info on screening:
Screening for alcohol use and alcohol related problems (NIAAA)
Many Health Plans Will Now Pay for Substance Use Screening and Brief Intervention
Simple steps can help curb opiate misuse in doctor’s offices, study shows
Advice from Addicted Women to Nurses, Doctors, Medical Staff
Screening for Problem Drinking at the Doctor’s Office Saves Money
Online Alcohol Screening Tools Help Employers Save Money

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