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Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS)

A Harm Reduction Approach

By Jason Vasquez, M.A.

The task of preventing alcohol abuse among college students is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Young people are bombarded with powerful messages from their peers and the media regarding what is acceptable drinking behavior. Unfortunately, these messages are often associated with risky sexual behavior and binge drinking. Since Fall 2005, the Counseling and Student Development Center at NMSU has utilized a research based alcohol intervention program called BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students).

The BASICS program was originally developed by the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington. BASICS is a well established, empirically validated preventative intervention for 18 to 24 year-old college students. BASICS is different than other alcohol prevention programs because the focus of the program is to reduce risky behaviors and the detrimental consequences associated with drinking alcohol rather than focusing on one drinking goal such as abstinence.

What is BASICS? BASICS is conducted over the course of two 50 minute interview sessions. During the first session, the counselor and the client both collaboratively explore the client’s alcohol consumption patterns, peer and familial influences, and other risk factors associated with problem drinking. During the second session, the counselor educates the student about the negative consequences of alcohol use, behaviors contributing to risk patterns, and common misconceptions about alcohol and its effects. During this session, the student will also learn about the typical drinking habits of college students. This information about social norms is re-emphasized in the personalized feedback part of the intervention.

How does BASICS help students? BASICS is designed to a) help students make better choices regarding their alcohol consumption; b) reduce alcohol consumption and its negative consequences; and c) provide information about coping skills related to risk reduction.

Who is referred to the BASICS Program? High risk drinkers are identified by NMSU housing and judicial affairs. Student who have come to their attention, have in some way, violated NMSU rules and policies.

Where to go for BASICS? In association with Counseling and Student Develoment Center, the Student Health Center provides the BASICS intervention.   Appointments are held at the Student Health Center.

For information regarding basics please contact Marion Chapman 646-2731 or