School counselor organizing training to help address opioid crisis
Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | 12.12.16
(Harrisburg) -- A counselor at a public school in the midstate says he and his colleagues are well positioned to address the opioid crisis.
Stephen Sharp, a counselor in Landisville Middle School in Lancaster County, is pushing for more school counselors to use a model most often used by healthcare professionals.
The model is called SBIRT, and it treats substance abuse as a healthcare issue.
It stands for screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment.
Sharp says since school counselors are often most familiar with students, they should use the model and make a difference.
"They're going to have the uniform language. They're going to have the tools, and they're going to understand when's the best time to access care for the students, and when they can provide more support for the families in different ways," he says.
SBIRT encourages trained professionals to recognize risky behavior, and then offer advice or a referral to a healthcare professional.
Sharp plans to offer free training for school counselors in the coming months.
He says because it's evidence-based, and has been used successfully in other areas, he's confident it will help minimize the harm of the opioid crisis, along with other problems, like teen drinking.
"There's emerging evidence as far as SBIRT as a good school-based approach, and we're seeing it being applied in public health centers like family physicians and applied in other educational settings as well," he adds.
The SBIRT model not only discourages using alcohol or drugs, but also taking risks like riding in a car driven by someone who has been drinking.
Published in Healthcare Transformation