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BASICS – Brief Alcohol Screening & Intervention for College Students


Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) is a prevention program for college students who drink alcohol heavily and have experienced or are at risk for alcohol-related problems.  Following a harm reduction approach, BASICS aims to motivate students to reduce alcohol use in order to decrease the negative consequences of drinking.

It is delivered over the course of a minimum of two 1-hour interviews.  The first interview, preceded by an in-person and/or an on-line assessment (E-CHECKUP) gathers information about the student’s recent alcohol and/or other drug consumption patterns, personal beliefs about alcohol or other drugs, and substance use history, while providing instructions for self-monitoring any drinking/using between sessions.

This information is used to develop a customized feedback profile for use in the second interview, which compares personal alcohol/other drug use with alcohol/other drug use norms, reviews individualized negative consequences and risk factors, clarifies perceived risks and benefits of drinking/using, and provides options to assist in making changes to decrease or abstain from alcohol/other drug use.  Based on principles of motivational interviewing, BASICS is delivered in an empathetic, non-confrontational, and nonjudgmental manner and is aimed at revealing the discrepancy between the student’s risky drinking/using behavior and his or her goals and values.  The intervention is delivered by trained personnel proficient in motivational interviewing and may be tailored for use with young adults in settings other than colleges.

While BASICS was originally designed to help college students modify or reduce their alcohol use, it has been expanded to include other drugs (i.e. CASICS programs: CAnnabis Screening and Intervention for College Students).


Dimeff, L.A., Baer, J.S., Kivlahan, D.R., Marlatt, G.A., (1999) Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS): A harm reduction Approach. New York: The Guilford Press.

BASICS is listed on the SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.