SAGE Publications, Health Promotion Practice, p. 152483992110690, 2022
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Women living in underserved communities are at an increased risk for substance use disorders and other comorbid health issues, a public health concern that was exacerbated as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. In response to the challenges the pandemic presented, services delivered by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) adapted nimbly, including WIC nutrition managers’ and counselors’ efforts to provide reactive referrals of clients raising concern about substance misuse and related consequences. This adaptation signaled an opportunity to consider integrating more proactive, evidence-based strategies for substance use disorders such as standardized brief assessments, advice, and referral procedures (i.e., Screening, Brief Interventions, and Referral to Treatment [SBIRT]), as part of routine WIC operations. Integration of such routine practice would improve the quality of care WIC provides to their clients and families, while addressing a major gap in public health by connecting clients at high risk for substance use disorders and substance-related problems to much needed services. Given the adaptability of WIC to reactively manage the wide array of psychosocial and mental health problems that increased during the pandemic, opportunities exist for future research to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of proactive implementation of brief screening, advice, and treatment referral to reduce substance-related harm among women living in underserved communities.