Santa Clara University

Wellness Center

BASICS: Brief Alcohol Screening
and Intervention for College Students

What is BASICS? 

BASICS stands for Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students. It is a free program offered by the SCU Wellness Center for SCU students, and is appropriate for anyone who uses alcohol and/or other drugs and has had unintended consequences, whether you are concerned about your drinking or drug use or just curious to learn about how your use compares to others. BASICS will provide you with a structured opportunity to assess your own risk, identify potential changes that could work for you, and help you to reduce your risk for developing future problems. 

Some students attend BASICS to fulfill a judicial sanction as a result of an alcohol-related offense, while others come because they have concerns about their alcohol use. The program is designed to assist students in examining their own behavior in a judgment-free environment.  The program coordinator will provide objective feedback based on a one-on-one assessment and questionnaires filled out by the student, to encourage positive changes in drinking behavior. Essentially, BASICS will provide the information and guidance, but what a student chooses to do with it is entirely up to the student. The BASICS sessions are entirely confidential, and we will not disclose any information from the sessions to anyone, including a student's parents, without the student's permission. CLICK HERE to read more about the BASICS program.

BASICS IS NOT a "Just Say No" or abstinence-only program. It is NOT the same thing as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) nor will it necessarily fulfill a court-mandated sanction.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1)  How much does it cost? 

  • The BASICS program is free.

2)  How do I schedule an appointment or make referral?

  • Referrals and Scheduling:
    • For Mandatory or Voluntary Referrals: Please contact Dr. Alison Bateman ( or call the SCU Wellness Center at 408-554-4409. 

3)  Why participate in BASICS?

BASICS is appropriate for anyone who uses alcohol and/or other drugs in a high-risk manner, especially if you are concerned about your drinking or drug use and how it compares to other students. BASICS will provide you with a structured opportunity to assess your own risk, identify potential changes that could work for you, and help to reduce your risk for developing future problems. While BASICS does touch on other drugs besides alcohol, its primary focus is on alcohol use. BASICS is primarily an alcohol assessment, and nothing more. It is not necessarily administered by a licensed counselor or substance abuse professional, so if students require a definite diagnosis, treatment, or more intensive care, we refer them to SCU Counseling and Psychological Services or off-campus resources.

4)  What should I expect?

BASICS is administered by the trained BASICS facilitators from the SCU Wellness Center. Facilitators are SCU staff, Counseling Psychology graduate students, and doctoral-level trainees and interns from Counseling and Psychological Services who have been trained to be BASICS facilitators. All BASICS sessions are one-on-one with a BASICS facilitator and the student. It takes two sessions, typically two weeks apart, to administer.

  • Session I:
    60 - 90 minutes: Building rapport with facilitator, orientation to the program, gathering information related to alcohol and other drug use, family and social history, and factors that may influence one's use of alcohol and other drug use.
  • Between Sessions:
    The student will complete a confidential online alcohol assessment (not the PUBLIC version of BluSky, available on the Wellness Center website) and complete alcohol and marijuana use (if applicable) monitoring forms.
  • Session II:
    60 minutes: The student will receive a personalized feedback profile of the alcohol and (if applicable) marijuana use. Based on the information obtained from the first session and between sessions, drinking and/or marijuana use of the prior two weeks, and exploration of the student's personal values, the student and facilitator discuss the role of alcohol and other drugs in the student's life, how the student's use of compares to that of other SCU students, and any changes the student may want to make to reduce the risk of future problems.
5)   Is it confidential? 

Your participation in the BASICS program and what you discuss with your facilitator will remain confidential--even your parents won't be told. If you were referred to BASICS as part of a judicial sanction with the university, your referral source (e.g., your RD or Assistant Dean) will be informed of whether you completed BASICS, but will not be informed of any of the content. No information can be released to anyone without your written consent, except as required by law in the following three cases:

  1. If you pose a danger to yourself or others (e.g., suicide, homicide)
  2. If a court of law issues a legitimate subpoena for your records
  3. If there is a reasonable suspicion of abuse of either a child or a dependent elder

6) How do I know if I have an alcohol problem?

Alcohol use, like most human behaviors, exists on a continuum from No/Low Risk to Severe/High Risk. The potential negative consequences of alcohol use also exist on a continuum with the most negative consequences occurring as you move toward alcohol dependence.  See the figure below for more information.  


7)  What have other SCU students reported after completing the BASICS program?

  • “My BASICS facilitator was very open and inviting. She opened my eyes to a lot of information"
  • "I like that the program was more of a conversation, not a "lecture".  The facilitator understands college drinking and how to talk about this issue."
  • "I felt comfortable being here, and I learned about myself and think others could absolutely benefit from this.”
  • “The interaction was great and I talked about my habits without being labeled.”
  • “It is a safe and private environment.”
  • “I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk with a professional in a confidential manner without repercussions.  It was done in a very non-judgmental way and was extremely helpful for me.”
  • “The feedback profile was very interesting."
  • "I think the best part about it was going over the SCU statistics and seeing where my drinking is compared to others here at school.  Also, I enjoyed learning more about my family history of alcoholism and how that places me at higher risk."
  • “I feel BASICS is a great way to go about handling drinking in college.”









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, NY: The Guilford Press.
**This book can be purchased on

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