Bill Would Have Wisconsin Schools Adopt Alcohol And Drug Screening Program Called SBIRT

Democratic Assemblywoman Says Every Dollar Spent On Screening Could Save $4 In Future Health Care

Shamane Mills/WPR

A Democratic lawmaker wants Wisconsin schools to screen every student for drug and alcohol problems annually.

Rep. LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee wants to expand a program called Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment, also known as SBIRT. It’s a method supported by the Department of Health Services, and is used in doctor’s offices and some schools.

“We know that 90 percent of adults with addiction and substance abuse problems began using well before they were 18 years old,” said Johnson.

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The assessment would be voluntary, allowing students to opt out.

There is no fiscal estimate on Johnson’s bill. It would give schools that want to use the program training in annual drug screening that could be used on students starting in sixth grade.

Johnson said every dollar spent on screening and intervention can save $4 in future healthcare costs, and that her bill could help avoid heroin deaths and reduce binge drinking.