Behavioral Health

Alcohol Misuse Screening and Counseling (AMSC) Resources


About AMSC

Alcohol Misuse Screening and Counseling (AMSC) (formerly Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment-SBIRT) is a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for persons with alcohol use disorders, as well as those who are at risk of developing these disorders. The AMSC can be used by providers in a primary care setting to help identify members who are at risk of hazardous alcohol use. Since January 1, 2014, managed care plans are required to cover and pay for an expanded screening for members 18 years of age or older who answer “yes” to the alcohol question on the Individual Health Education Behavioral Assessment (IHEBA).

When a member answers “yes” to the IHEBA screening, providers are required to offer the member an expanded, validated alcohol screening questionnaire. The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) requires the use of one of the following: Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT); Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C); or a single-question screening, such as asking, “How many times in the past year have you had 4 (for women and all adults older than 65 years) or 5 (for men) or more drinks in a day?” Links to screening tools can be found below in the Screening Instruments section. If a member is identified as having risky or hazardous alcohol use, CalOptima expects that providers offer behavioral counseling intervention(s). Resources for counseling are included below in the Trainings, and Articles and Brochures sections. For further information regarding AMSC, you may refer to All Plan Letter (APL) 18-014 or contact CalOptima’s Behavioral Health Integration (BHI) department at

Fact sheets

Alcohol facts and statistics Alcohol facts and statistics


U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (UPSTF) — behavioral counseling interventions An evidence-based approach addressing individual behaviors to improve health outcomes

AMSC (formerly SBIRT) — core training Several trainings and other resources

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration (SAMSHA–HRSA): motivational interviewing A clinical approach to helping people with mental health and substance use disorders and other chronic conditions

Screening instruments

Articles and brochures

Screening and behavioral counseling interventions in primary care to reduce alcohol misuse  Download PDF Icon Update of the 2004 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation statement on screening and behavioral counseling interventions in primary care to reduce alcohol misuse

NIAAA rethinking drinking: alcohol and your health  Download PDF Icon Research-based information from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NIAAA helping patients who drink too much  Download PDF Icon A clinician’s guide for support, training and patient education

Understanding alcohol’s impact on health  Download PDF Icon Alcohol’s effects on health and society


Orange County Health Care Agency — OC Links Information and referral line providing telephone and online support for anyone seeking information or connection to any of the Health Care Agency's behavioral health services

Orange County Health Care Agency — Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services Crisis intervention, assessment and evaluation, HIV education, pre- and post-test counseling, voluntary testing; counseling and testing referrals to other programs for individuals, groups and families

Orange County Health Care Agency – Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delviery System (DMC-ODS) Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOT), Residential Treatment, Recovery Services, Withdrawal Management, Narcotic Treatment Program/Opioid Treatment Program (NTP/OTP), Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

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