An early intervention program model, developed at Boston Medical Center, that identifies those at risk for alcohol and drug-related consequences, provides a brief intervention, and connects them to treatment and comprehensive services when appropriate
Project ASSERT (Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, Education, and Referral to Treatment) is a program co-located to the emergency department at Boston Medical Center (BMC) which aids in early intervention for substance use disorder (SUD) and substance misuse through screening, counseling, and referral to treatment.
This program has serviced more than 80,000 patients in the emergency department since it began in 1994. Those that provide the intervention are Health Promotion Advocates, specifically Massachusetts DPH licensed alcohol and drug counselors, whose aim is to establish a rapport and build a relationship with the patient.
The counselors collaborate with BMC clinicians to advocate for the patient and provide access to a continuum of care and comprehensive services. Staff are co-located to the emergency department from 8am until midnight, seven days a week. They approach identified patients with potential substance use problems in a non-judgmental manner, screen the patient, educate the patient, and connect them to treatment, if desired, as well as serve as navigators for other comprehensive services.
This model has been replicated in other emergency departments across the nation. More information can be found in this case study of the program.
The intervention group was more likely than the control group to be abstinent from cocaine and heroin at follow up.