Referral to Treatment

When you identify individuals who are in need of more extensive treatment, you will need to refer them to specialty care.

Before You Refer

Talk with your patient/client about factors affecting their referral:

  • What type of insurance or financial resources do they have?
  • What obstacles are there to accessing treatment (e.g. transportation, child care, employment)?
  • Are there any available support systems?
  • Does the individual or that person's family have any preferences regarding treatment?

Other factors to consider are the patient/client's readiness to change, the significance/risk of use, and the healthcare environment.

Find a Referral Location

SAMHSA provides an easy-to-use website where you look up referral agencies by city or zip code.

In order to perform a warm handoff to the referral agency, it is important to know who is on the other end.

When Your Client is Ready
  • Make a plan with them.
  • Actively participate in the referral process. If possible, introduce your client to the treatment provider. (Evidence strongly indicates that warm handoffs are dramatically more successful than passive referrals.)
  • Decide how you will interact/communicate with the provider.
  • Confirm your follow-up plan with the patient/client.