What are brief interventions?
Who can do brief interventions?
When to do brief interventions
Where do brief interventions take place?
Distance learners

What are brief interventions?

Brief interventions are widely used in AOD work. They are particularly effective for people who do not have a long-term history of heavy AOD use. This type of intervention takes very little time and is usually conducted in a one-on-one situation. It involves making the most of any opportunity to raise awareness, share knowledge and get a young person thinking about making changes to improve their health and behaviours. The intervention can last as little as 30 seconds or may involve a few 5 to 60 minute sessions. Brief interventions often consist of informal counselling and providing information on certain types of harms and risks associated with drug use and/or risky behaviours.

Brief interventions can be used in a variety of ways, including health promotion, disease prevention, early intervention and as a strategy for dealing with problematic behaviours. While brief interventions are considered to be effective, the outcome will really depend on the young person's readiness to change or think about the information provided. Brief interventions are easy and effective. They assist young people make their own decisions and provide them with the opportunity to learn about health-related issues in order to make more informed choices.

Brief interventions recognise that many people can benefit from being given appropriate information at the right time. This option can work particularly well for young people as they are less likely to engage in ongoing counselling sessions and can be erratic and impulsive in their decision-making.

Who can do brief interventions?

There are a diverse range of 'frontline workers' that can utilise the benefits of brief intervention strategies. Some of these occupational groups may include:
  • youth workers
  • accommodation and crisis workers
  • counsellors (school included)
  • primary and community health and welfare workers
  • juvenile justice
  • police
  • teachers
  • clinical counsellors
  • social workers
  • carers.
It is important to always check how much a young person knows. By engaging in brief interventions with young people you may be able to provide enough information to allow better choices, raise awareness and motivate and support young people to make decisions that are best for them.
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When to do brief interventions

Task - workplace learning/writing exercise, group activity

Think of a time when you have conducted a brief intervention in your workplace and answer the following questions:

Question - What was the situation or circumstance that led to the brief intervention?

Question - How was the brief intervention conducted?

Question - What was the end result?

Where do brief interventions take place?

Workplace learning/group activity

Ask learners to take some time to reflect on their own work practice and to recall some instances in which brief interventions occurred while working with young people.

Question - Can you think of a time when applying a brief intervention may not be appropriate?

  • When the person does not wish to engage in conversation and becomes visibly distressed by your questioning
  • When a person is in a highly emotional state
  • When a person is intoxicated
  • When a person is on medication that is mood and/or mind-altering (i.e. methadone or some anti-psychotics).


  • Population-based prevention strategies target groups, communities and societies by attempting to change attitudes and behavious associated with AOD use.

  • All organisations working with young people should develop practices that encourage prevention and early intervention of problematic AOD use.

  • Brief interventions can be used by frontline workers to provide quick and information education and awareness about the impact of problematic AOD use.

Distance learners

(A good point for student to contact facilitator.)

Distance learners have been advised to make contact with you the facilitator to check their learning progress.