Brief Interventions for Substance Use Disorders

Jan 1, 2020Guidelines




Summary: Brief interventions are structured short-term counselling interventions delivered by appropriately trained professionals, such as psychiatrists, physicians, and nurses. They include evidence-based and cost-effective psychosocial practices that address harms related to substance use, by identifying current or potential problems associated with substance use and motivate those at risk to change their substance use behavior.  These interventions are based on the  stages of change model with components of feedback, responsibility, advice, menu of options, empathy, and self-efficacy. Techniques from motivational interviewing (eg. DARE) are also discussed.  The typical duration of a brief intervention session would be <15 min in a single session, up to a maximum would be 4 sessions of up to 30 min. The advantages and limitations of brief interventions, current evidence base, and use in special populations and newer delivery formats such as Adolescents, Pregnant women, Emergency attendees. Pragmatic aspects in conduct and scale-up and Barriers and facilitators to implementation including factors that may affect delivery of brief interventions in the Indian clinical setting. In Indian setting, we recommend that brief intervention can be conducted in medical care settings, general psychiatric care setting, and in schools and colleges. Brief intervention should be limited to alcohol and/or tobacco use disorders. Adequately trained personnel including physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and social workers can implement brief interventions. When the substance use severity is high, then brief intervention should be linked to other treatment facilities.
Authors: Siddharth Sarkar, Ashish Pakhre, Pratima Murthy, Dhrubajyoti Bhuyan
Year of Publication: January-2020
Citation: Sarkar S, Pakhre A, Murthy P, Bhuyan D. Brief Interventions for Substance Use Disorders. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2020 Jan;62(Suppl 2):S290.

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