Illicit Drug Use in Palm Beach County


The total population size in Palm Beach County is 1,496,770 (“County Health Rankings and Roadmaps,” 2018). Although median household income is about $64,000, more than 11% of the population lives in poverty (“County Health Rankings and Roadmaps,” 2018). One of the pressing issues in this region is substance use. For example, marijuana and opioid use disorder corresponds to 1.3% and 0.9% in this county (“County Health Rankings and Roadmaps,” 2018). The comparative data to the state statistics revealed that substance use in this county is slightly higher than the state average.

Problem Description

The main problem in this county is an increased risk of illicit drug use among the adult population. The county data shows that substance use here is slightly above the state average. The main contributing factor to this problem is the availability of illicit drugs in the county.

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SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) Description

SBIRT, which stands for screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment, is a comprehensive public health intervention aimed to identify, screen, and refer to treatment people at high risk for substance abuse (Del Boca et al., 2017). Screening identifies the probability of a person being evaluated to abuse alcohol or illicit drugs (Del Boca et al., 2017). Brief intervention is a short session to provide patient information about the consequences of substance use and motivate them to change (Del Boca et al., 2017). Referral to treatment involves linking a person at risk to possible treatment options (Del Boca et al., 2017). SBIRT can be introduced in the Emergency departments or via telephonic services (Babor et al., 2017). For example, SBIRT was found to reach a statistically significant reduction in illicit drug use among severe patients (Babor et al., 2017). To further improve individual outcomes accessibility of SBIRT resources should be increased.

Community Resources

One of the community resources in Palm Beach is Covenant House Florida CHAMP, which is a non-profit organization that provides free high-quality treatment to people in need (Find, n.d.). This organization offers transportation to those who do not have one to get to this center, which is open 24/7.

Implications for Practice

Nurses are skilled and knowledgeable professionals who are often on the frontlines of patient care. SBIRT is underutilized among nurses due to the lack of appropriate training (Wamsley et al., 2018). The involvement of nurses in the SBIRT program can improve health outcomes because patients often are more comfortable discussing substance use with nurses than with physicians (Wamsley et al., 2018). It appears that the involvement of nurses in the SBIRT program can improve health outcomes in patients with substance use disorder.


To sum up, substance use and illicit drug disorders are critical problems in Palm Beach county. It was found that the SBIRT program is an effective tool for screening and reduction of substance use in a vulnerable population. Finally, since nurses play an essential role at all levels of healthcare, they should also be involved in screening patients at risk and motivating them for change.

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Babor, T. F., Del Boca, F., & Bray, J. W. (2017). Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment: Implications of SAMHSA’s SBIRT initiative for substance abuse policy and practice. Addiction, 112, 110-117.

County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. (2018). Explore rankings. Web.

Del Boca, F. K., McRee, B., Vendetti, J., & Damon, D. (2017). The SBIRT program matrix: A conceptual framework for program implementation and evaluation. Addiction, 112, 12-22. (n.d.). Covenant House Florida CHAMP. Web.

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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2020). Behavioral health barometer, vol. 6. Web.

Wamsley, M., Satterfield, J. M., Curtis, A., Lundgren, L., & Satre, D. D. (2018). Alcohol and drug screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) training and implementation: Perspectives from 4 health professions. Journal of addiction medicine, 12(4), 262-272.

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