BASICS - Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students

BASICS - Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students

About the BASICS Program

The BASICS program uses a harm reduction approach and is designed to:

  • Promote a non-judgmental environment to help you explore your alcohol use
  • Reduce risky behavior and harmful consequences of alcohol abuse
  • Identify changes that could help you reduce your risk
  • Provide important information and skills for risk reduction

Students who have an alcohol policy/legal violation on or off campus, or have an alcohol-related visit to the emergency department at Hershey Medical Center (or other local hospital) are required to take BASICS. These students are mandated by Penn State’s Office of Student Conduct or Residence Life. Students may also be referred by a county or district magistrate.

Time Commitment

The BASICS program consists of three sessions with the Addiction Specialist. During the first session you will complete an informal screening which typically takes about 30 minutes. The second session lasts about 50 minutes and may be done individually or in a small group format. This session involves an open discussion about alcohol, marijuana and other drugs and a short educational component. Between the second and third sessions you will need to complete an online questionnaire that will be sent to you by the Addiction Specialist. During the third and final session you will receive a personalized feedback on your substance use. Additional sessions beyond the first three may be required for some students.


There is no fee for BASICS/Drug and Alcohol counseling at Penn State Harrisburg. However, if a student fails to show up to a scheduled appointment on two occasions they will be required to seek an assessment through an off-campus provider. Students will be financially responsible for off-campus assessments. 


BASICS is offered at Counseling and Disability Services 109 Swatara Building.


The information you share during the BASICS sessions is confidential; however, we will disclose health information about you when required to do so by federal, state or local law. We may use and disclose health information about you when necessary to prevent a serious threat to your health and safety or the health and safety of the public or another person. Any disclosure, however, would only be to someone able to help prevent that threat. Mandated students will be asked to acknowledge a release of information statement that will allow BASICS staff to verify completion with the appropriate Penn State offices.

An Evidence-Based Program

Penn State’s BASICS program is based on a program created by Dr. Alan Marlatt (Former Director, Addictive Behaviors Research Center and Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington). The BASICS program is one of the most effective alcohol education interventions with college students.

Contact Us

If you have questions about these programs or about the use of alcohol and/or other drugs, you may also call the Office of Counseling and Disability Services at 717-948-6025 or email Carl Asick at

Credit: BASICS information adapted from University Health Services.