Last reviewed: 6/15/2023

BASICS—Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students—is a program designed to assist students in examining their drinking and other drug-use behavior in a judgment-free environment. This is NOT an abstinence-only program. Instead, the goals are selected by the student and are aimed at reducing risky behaviors and potential harmful consequences. Services provided through the BASICS program are non-judgmental, non-labeling, and private.

This service is available to all registered undergraduate, graduate, and professional students on the Morningside campus – including Barnard College, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary, and Jewish Theological Seminary.

What does participating in the BASICS program involve?

  • Initial meeting with a BASICS provider
  • Online Assessment
  • Follow-up meeting with the same provider

How to Access BASICS

  1. Complete the Alcohol Use Self-Assessment or the Cannabis Use Self-Assessment 
  2. Check "Yes" when asked "Are you interesting in participating in BASICS?"
  3. Schedule an appointment via the online portal link sent to you via email.

BASICS is offered virtually at a variety of days and times. In person requests will be accommodated if needed. During appointments, students have the opportunity to discuss any issues or concerns, including sleep and mental health.

Referral to BASICS

Students are referred to see a BASICS provider in one of three ways: self-referral, soft referral, and mandatory referral. Referral to BASICS is educational and is not meant to be a means of discipline. Regardless of the type of referral, BASICS sessions are always tailored to the goals of each individual student.

For students concerned about their relationship with alcohol or who would like to learn more about how to maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol, self-referral may be a good option. Simply complete the brief, anonymous Alcohol Use Self-Assessment. Similarly, for those interested in exploring their relationship with marijuana, they may complete the the Cannabis Use Self-Assessment. If deemed appropriate, at the end of the survey, there is an option to participate in BASICS. If interested in participating in BASICS, click the “Yes, I am interested in BASICS” icon. Taking the self-assessment is not a commitment to being contacted by a provider. The self-assessment will be anonymous unless a student specifically requests to be contacted.

This brief screening tool is not intended to serve as a substitute for a complete substance use evaluation. If a student feels that it would be beneficial to receive assistance for alcohol or other drug-related concerns, please speak with your health care provider.

Soft referrals are for students for whom BASICS is recommended, but not required. Soft referrals are available to all students on campus. There is a network of trained soft referrers across campus, including deans, Columbia Health staff, athletic trainers, academic advisers, and others. Examples of soft referrals may include:

  • Faculty member, instructor, staff member, or adviser is concerned about student’s use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Academic problems that may be connected to student’s use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Medical provider has concerns about a student’s health related to substance use
  • Mental health provider has concerns about a student’s substance use

Mandatory referrals are for students for whom BASICS is required. There is a network of trained mandatory referrers across campus, including deans, residential programs staff, Student Conduct and Community Standards staff, and other administrators on campus. Examples of mandatory referrals may include:

  • CU-EMS transports a student for alcohol- or other drug-related reason
  • Violations of school policies or other students’ rights (e.g., sexual harassment) in which alcohol or other drug use was involved
  • Ethical violations in which alcohol or substance use played a part
  • Inappropriate behavior at school-sponsored events, either on or off campus, in which alcohol or other drug use was involved
  • Disruptive classroom behavior involving alcohol or substance use
  • Alcohol- or substance use–related problematic behavior at internships, externships, or other field placements

For policy violations involving substance use, the mandatory referrer also has the option to recommend BASICS as an educational part of the process. It is up to the mandatory referrer’s discretion if BASICS would be an appropriate educational option for those in violation of policies, procedures, or regulations related to alcohol or other substance abuse or misuse, on or off campus.

If you have questions about BASICS or other substance use-related issues, email [email protected] or check out the Alcohol and Other Drugs fact sheets at Go Ask Alice!