SBIRT - Drug Screening

In March of 2016, the Massachusetts State Legislature enacted a new drug screening law mandating that Massachusetts schools verbally screen students for potential drug/alcohol use/abuse. Extensive training has been provided to schools to enact this screening.  The screening was implemented for the first time at Wachusett Regional High School during the 2017-2018 school year. All school districts have been required to screen students in two grade levels. At the high school, we screen students in tenth grade, and the rest of the district schools screen students in seventh grade.

Opting Out

Parents have the ability to opt their students out. The form for parents is available here.  Students also have the ability to opt out, separately from their parents. They can find the form here. Students can also opt-out at any point during the screening itself.

What Kind of Screening is This?

This is a verbal screening only.  Students will have a conversation with an SBIRT trained staff member in a private office, on a one-on-one basis.  The screening will consist of a brief introduction for the student, some specific questions, and will be followed by a brief conversation. It's expected that the screening will take approximately 5 minutes.

Will Parents be Informed of the Screening Results?

No. Parents will not be informed of any screening results. The training and law is very explicit that parents cannot be notified of the screening results.

In addition, Massachusetts law goes further. Minors as young as 12 are even able to obtain medical treatment for substance abuse without parental consent or notification.  

This is not to say that students will not be encouraged to talk to their parents. If a student has a drug/alcohol problem, we will almost always encourage that student to talk with his/her parent/guardian and get them involved. Often, students will use us as the conduit to having that conversation with their parent/guardian. Parents/guardians are our partners when it comes to these types of topics and every effort will be made to aid the student in telling his/her parent/guardian/guardian about the concerns.

What Information Will Be Collected?

Part of this state mandate requires schools to send aggregate screening results to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  What this means is that the number of students who respond positively or negatively to the various screening questions will be sent. No student names or identifying information is ever sent to the state, nor is any of that information recorded. In fact, the screenings are verbal only - students can see the questions if they like, but they do not fill out any questions on a piece of paper; part of the rationale for that is to keep student names and information private. Student names are not recorded as part of this process.

What Happens if a Student Screens Positively and Needs Additional Help?

If a student screens positively, we will encourage them to speak to a parent, their school counselor, or an outside agency to get additional support.  The student will need to give written consent to reach the next tier of support (traditionally, their school counselor and/or a parent/guardian).

Tell me More About Confidentiality. Are There Any Exceptions?

Confidentiality is a huge piece of this legislation.  The person conducting the screening with the student cannot share the information with anybody without the written consent of the student. Additionally, the results would never impact student discipline in any way.  The exception to this confidentiality clause is if, as the law states, the screener feels that in his/her professional opinion the student is in immediate medical danger or a "disclosure is otherwise required by state law."

Are there additional Resources for Students Struggling with a Drug/Alcohol Addiction?

Here are some community resources that a WRHS student could take advantage of: Interface Referral Service - a counseling referral agency which streamlines referrals and cuts down on wait list time - more information is available on our school counseling webpage. This is a partnership WRHS has with Interface and is only open to WRHS students.

Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline

800 327-5050 -

The Massachusetts Helpline will continue to work with families and other key stakeholders to devise the most appropriate course of action for adolescents and young adults ages 13-24 in need of treatment for their use of substances. Options include:

  • Placement in a stabilization program
  • Placement directly at residential programs without a prior stay at stabilization level of care
  • Referrals to statewide outpatient, community-based Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA) services

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline - A free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. 1-800-662-HELP (4357) -

The individual screenings will take place during PE Adventures classes.  If your child is enrolled in PE Adventures this semester, the screening will take place in November.  If your child has PE Adventures next semester, the screening will take place in the spring.