By: Shannon Persad
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NJCAEF Proposes SBIRT Program for Young Adults Suffering from Substance Abuse
With substance abuse rampant across both the nation and the state of New Jersey, the NJCAEF has proposed a program called SBIRT for young adults in school to fight the epidemic.
NJCAEF is a nonprofit organization in NJ, working to empower low and moderate-income people through education, research, and public policy issues. They work with families and seniors as well. NJCAEF offers free skills-building education, outreach, and counseling programs in New Jersey.
NJCAEF released a white paper on October 1st, 2019, proposing the SBIRT Program because of its positive impact in other states. If passed, it can be signed into law and active in 2021.
What is the SBIRT Program for Youth?
According to NJCAEF’s “Youth At Risk” white paper, SBIRT is an “evidence-based, early intervention, cost-effective tool.” It stands for “Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment.”
- Screening: A series of questions are asked, prompting conversation about an emerging substance or mental health issue.
- Brief Intervention: Those with moderate to high-risk substance misuse are engaged in brief intervention. Licensed health professionals use techniques to gain insight into the youth’s life to get to the root of the problem.
- Referral to Treatment: If a young adult is found misusing substances or demonstrating addictive behaviors, they are referred to treatment.
According to NJCAEF, New Jersey could be the next state to enact this into legislation and perform annual assessments for all students. Other states that have implemented an SBIRT-type program are Massachusetts and Georgia, including a dozen more.
The benefits of SBIRT include:
- Improvement in grades
- Positive reinforce for students abstinent from drugs
- Prevention of future substance abuse
- Reduce substance abuse amongst the youth and address mental health issues
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), by the time adolescents are seniors, “almost 70 percent of high school students will have tried alcohol, half will have taken an illegal drug, nearly 40 percent will have smoked a cigarette, and more than 20 percent will have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical purpose.”
Young adults are most impacted by drugs early on, as their brain is still developing. Long-term use can result in destructive behaviors in their adult life.
Seek professional help if you or someone you know is misusing or abusing drugs.
To read more about SBIRT, click here.