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Am J Public Health. 2010 Jan;100(1):108-14. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.149534.

Screening and brief intervention for substance misuse among older adults: the Florida BRITE project.

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Department of Aging and Mental Health Disparities, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33612-3899, USA.



We developed and examined the effectiveness of the Florida Brief Intervention and Treatment for Elders (BRITE) project, a 3-year, state-funded pilot program of screening and brief intervention for older adult substance misusers.


Agencies in 4 counties conducted screenings among 3497 older adults for alcohol, medications, and illicit substance misuse problems and for depression and suicide risk. Screening occurred in elders' homes, senior centers, or other selected sites. Individuals who screened positive for substance misuse were offered brief intervention with evidence-based practices and rescreened at discharge from the intervention program and at follow-up interviews.


Prescription medication misuse was the most prevalent substance use problem, followed by alcohol, over-the-counter medications, and illicit substances. Depression was prevalent among those with alcohol and prescription medication problems. Those who received the brief intervention had improvement in alcohol, medication misuse, and depression measures.


The BRITE program effectively shaped state policy by responding to legislative mandates to address the needs of an increasing, but underserved, elder population. The pilot paved the way for obtaining a federally funded grant to expand BRITE to 27 sites in 17 counties in Florida.

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