Research-Based Training to Identify Substance Misuse

Even when it’s your job, it’s not easy to ask people about substance use. Kalea Benner’s current research is based on this fact.

“I knew from my own experiences as a social work practitioner, even with a decade of experience under my belt, it was still hard for me to ask about substance use. And, in today's world, when it's prescription drugs, when a doctor has given you permission to use that medication, it's even harder,” says Benner, director of undergraduate studies at the UK College of Social Work. “That was one thing I wanted to help my students do: gain confidence in asking those tough questions, know that they weren't being intrusive, and be able to understand what substance misuse looked like, what it sounded like.”

With funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Benner is training UK social work students, nursing students and medical residents to use SBIRT (screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment), an evidence-based tool to identify, reduce and prevent misuse of alcohol and drugs, including prescription medications. Listen to the podcast to learn why a primary care setting might be the best place to have a conversation that can change people’s lives for the better.