Essay Example: Assessing the Severity of Substance Use

Published: 2023-02-27
Essay Example: Assessing the Severity of Substance Use
Type of paper:  Literature review
Categories:  Substance abuse Community health Drug abuse Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1700 words
15 min read

The severity of substance use-related cases has been observed to be on the rise in the recent past where emergency departments i.e., ED's are registering the reporting of more and more substance abuse-related cases (Seale et al. 2013). Among the most commonly abused substances include alcohol, and tobacco, among other readily available drugs that are legal. Emergency departments are, however, not equipped with the necessary personnel or services for the provision of service beyond acute medical stabilization (Derogatis et al. 2001). As a result, the inability to access an ED in the case of a drug overdose or any other substance abuse-related cases may lead to fatal outcomes for the patient. However, the integration of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBRIT) into emergency departments is expected to improve the quality of services provided to substance abuse patients. Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce, and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol and drugs (Kuperminc et al. 2015).

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Synthesizing the findings

It has been established that out of the approximately 23.1 million Americans in need of treatment for substance use-related disorders, only 2.5 million (10.8%) receive specialty treatment annually (Andrae et al. 2009). This, therefore, leaves a considerable part of the population i.e., 88.2% without access to specialty care (Thombs et al. 2013). Although the affordable healthcare act has tried to ensure the integration of behavioral health and specialty care, there is yet to be observed the effects of these measures. However, SBRIT models have gotten embraced for use in the addressing of substance abuse-related cases in healthcare (Cooper, 2006). According to research conducted aimed at determining the efficacy of the SBRIT models in intervention for alcohol abuse-related cases, there has been evidence of significant contributions of these models in enhancing efficiency. Administered across a group of the non-drinker population, it was established that SBRIT models have helped reduce the number of alcohol abuse-related injuries in the ED (Agerwala & McCance-Katz, 2012). For the population samples that had received brief interventions in the ED, there was an observation in the decrease of related drunk driving cases.

Attending to the trends in the research

Directions from the research activity indicated that most patients with alcohol and other drugs disorders (AOD) were more likely to suffer from co-occurring disorders, i.e. (COD's), which were more likely to bring about complications in the administration of treatment procedures (Terplan et al. 2015). A majority of alcohol abuse patients were also linked to a higher probability for the occurrence of COD's as well as other mental-related conditions. Unlike patients who receive their treatment in the ED, research has indicated that substance abuse patients who receive integrated treatment are likely to exhibit better and improved outcomes (Ricciardelli et al. 2011).

The adoption of SBRIT evidence-based practice in the healthcare setting was identified to have numerous benefits for the service recipients. For instance, under the SBRIT model, it was observed that a patient can save between $3.81 to $5.60 for each $1.00 spent (Bray, et al. 2007). Through the incorporation of such models, it is identified that it is possible to accord patients with affordable healthcare options that could help lessen the related treatment costs for substance abuse-related patients (Klein et al. 1972). Consequently, with the adoption of SBRIT frameworks, the risk of physical trauma in drug and substance abuse patients as well as reducing the total percentage of patients who go without specialized treatment for substance use (Committee on Substance Abuse, 2011). These research trends are oriented to advocating for the benefits of this healthcare service delivery model and the associated benefits for both the patients as well as the healthcare service providers.

Areas of agreements and disagreement

Although there is a wide array of advantages associated with Integrating Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment approach in the delivery of healthcare services to patients, there are various challenges that also present themselves for this model (DiClemente, Schlundt & Gemmell, 2004). The most outstanding problem that has been observed is the integration of the SBRIT model in the social work sphere model. This is because there is limited access to education for healthcare service providers on the various interventions applicable to substance abuse-related cases. There has been a general overlook of the need for specialized care for substance abuse victims (Berger & Di Paolo, 2015). As a result, there has been little research investment on the various approaches that could get implemented toward the development of improved care plans for this class of patients.

However, the current and ongoing integration of the SBRIT model in the nursing care model is likely to ensure that substance abuse patients can access the best possible intervention measures that will be essential for the treatment administration and patient well-being determination (McGinnis & Foege, 1999).


To further increase the efficacy of the SBRIT model in the intervention for alcohol and substance abuse-related conditions, various states have come up with the "Health Home" model, which is aimed at improving better service delivery to patients afflicted with underlying chronic health conditions (Clark et al. 2011). Implemented under the affordable healthcare act, "health home" is an intervention measure that is implemented with the aim of aiding substance abuse patients to receive better and specialized care for substance use-related injuries (Vaca & Winn, 2007). This new inception is expected to increase the use of the SBRIT policy, which will be, in turn, essential for the interventions as well as treatment administrative measures (Buck, 2011). There is always a need to ensure that medical systems are operating at their optimum functionality levels, which in turn ensures that there is efficient service delivery, which in turn reduces the various challenges experienced during service delivery (Samet et al. 2014).

Specialized care for drug abuse patients has been a gray area in the medical sector, given that for chronic users, there was the necessity for advanced care, which was not administered under standard diagnostic approaches (Strobbe, 2014). However, with the inception of the SBRIT model, there has been the observation of more accurate diagnosis and the screening procedure ensures that there is an accurate assessment on the severity of the underlying drug-related problem thereby enabling the healthcare service providers to administer the most effective treatment options available (Clark et al. 2009).


Drug and substance abuse is a major vice that has been observed to impact society in the most adverse ways. To make matters worse, most of the individuals affected by drug and substance abuse are not able to access the best possible healthcare services due to either the poor implementation of patient care services in this department. Another cause for the failure of substance abuse victims to access specialized care is the limited number of healthcare service-providing personnel in the drug and substance abuse intervention division.

However, with the development of more elaborate systems such as Integrating Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment, it will be possible to ensure that more effective treatment is administered to these patients and that there is a likely decrease in the number of mortalities related to substance abuse. The SBRIT model is yet to be integrated into all healthcare facilities; however, upon the proper adoption of the model, it will be possible to oversee effective patient-centered care administration.


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