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The White House
For Immediate Release

Obama Administration Officials Announce $22 Million Expansion of Innovative Health Program Aimed at Detecting and Intervening in Drug Addiction Early

Three States Receive Grants to Fund Screening Initiative That Identifies and Treats Substance Use Through Medical Settings; Program Builds Upon Administration Emphasis on Public Health Approaches to Drug Policy

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, (ONDCP) joined Pamela Hyde, Administrator of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to announce more than $22 million in new funding to expand an innovative public health program—Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). This program seeks to identify, intervene, and treat the Nation’s drug problem through the integration of alcohol and drug screening into the standard delivery of healthcare.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based approach to identifying persons who use alcohol and other drugs at risky levels, with the goal of reducing and preventing related health consequences, disease, accidents, and injury. The SBIRT program equips primary care centers, hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers, and other community settings with the ability to intervene early with at-risk substance users before more severe consequences occur. Through universal alcohol and drug screening, SBIRT programs help identify people with risky substance use that might otherwise go unnoticed and untreated. Through SBIRT, people with risky use receive brief intervention targeting behavioral change and, if needed, referral into treatment—thereby getting persons in need onto the road to recovery sooner. Implementation of screening and early intervention also helps lower the ever-increasing costs in our workplace, health care system, and criminal justice system.

“This program saves lives, saves money, and can reduce the significant burden our drug problem places on both health careand criminal justice systems,” said Director Kerlikowske. “SBIRT represents the future of drug policy in America and I commend our partners in the medical community for working with us to implement smart approaches in health settings to reduce our Nation’s challenges with substance use. Law enforcement efforts will always remain a part of our work to protect communities from drug-related crime, but as someone who has spent my entire career in law enforcement, I know that we cannot simply arrest our way out of the drug problem.”

“Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment has been shown to be highly effective in connecting those who need help with substance abuse to treatment strategies to meet their needs,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “The SBIRT programs funded through these cooperative agreements can help many in need of substance abuse treatment to get on the road to recovery quickly and enhance their overall health and well-being.”

Each of the three awardees will receive up to a total of $7,575,000 over 5 years, funded through cooperative agreements through SAMHSA. Continuation of these awards is subject to availability of funds and progress achieved by the awardees. Since 2003, SAMHSA has funded 17 Medical Residency Cooperative Agreements, 15 State Cooperative Agreements, and 12 Targeted Capacity Expansion Campus Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) Grants. Following is a list of the new SBIRT program awardees and their first-year funding amounts. 





Total Award

State of New Jersey


New Jersey


Governor’s Office




State of Iowa – Iowa Department of Public Health

Des Moines



In April, President Obama released the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy, the Administration’s primary blueprint for drug policy in the United States. The new Strategy promotes a “third way” approach to drug policy that supports alternatives to a law-enforcement-centric “war on drugs” or drug legalization. The new drug policy strategy outlines 113 specific actions to be undertaken throughout the Federal Government to reform U.S. drug policy through innovative and evidence-based public health and safety approaches, which include expanding access to drug treatment and recovery support programs, breaking the cycle of drug use, crime, and incarceration, and supporting youth outreach programs that prevent drug use before it begins.

The rate of overall drug use in the United States has declined by roughly 30 percent since 1979. Since 2006, there has been a 40 percent reduction in the rate of cocaine use, and meth use has dropped by half. To build on this progress and support public health approaches to drug control, the Obama Administration has requested over $10 billion for drug education programs and support for expanding access to drug treatment for people suffering from substance use disorders in FY 2013. This will build upon the $30 billion already spent over the past three years on drug use prevention and treatment.

SBIRT was highlighted in the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy as an evidence-based approach to early intervention that “reduces the time and resources needed to treat conditions caused or worsened by substance use, making our health systems more cost-effective.” These newly funded programs provide continued opportunity to promote the integration of SBIRT into mainstream health care and provide support for ongoing education and training for medical and allied health professionals.

For more information about the Office of National Drug Control Policy, visit: