BASICS Alcohol Screening

BASICS Alcohol Screening

What is the BASICS Program?

BASICS stands for Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students. The program uses a harm-reduction approach and is designed to:

  • promote a non-judgmental environment to help a student explore her/his alcohol use
  • reduce risky behavior and harmful consequences of alcohol abuse
  • identify changes that could help a student reduce the risk of alcohol abuse
  • provide important information and skills for risk reduction

Who participates in BASICS?

Students who are sanctioned by Penn State's Student Conduct and Residence Life Office are assigned to complete the BASICS program and are required to pay a $175 fee for this service. Payment may be made by cash, check, or by charging the student's account. 

A student must pay the fee for BASICS at her/his first session. Please note that a 24-hour cancellation notice is required to avoid a "no-show" fee of $75. If rescheduling a BASICS appointment is required, the student must contact the staff assistant from the Office of Student Affairs/Student Activities.

Students who are concerned about their drinking but have not had an alcohol incident can take BASICS as a self-referral program at no charge. Students who want to take BASICS on a self-referral basis should contact Nurse Barb Kugel in the Health Center, 724-773-3955. Students who self-refer to the program will not be charged a fee. Students who have been mandated to the program are not eligible for self-referral.  

Time Commitment

The BASICS program consists of two one-hour sessions with Nurse Kugel. During the first session, the student will complete an online questionnaire and be screened for alcohol abuse, depression, and anxiety. At the second session. the student will discuss her/his questionnaire and receive a personalized feedback report that includes a comparison of the student's drinking to that of other Penn State students. In addition, the student will explore ways to reduce future health, social, and legal risks.  


The information shared during the BASICS sessions is confidential. However, if a student indicates that she/he may harm herself/himself, that information may be disclosed as appropriate. Students who are mandated to participate in the program will be asked to sign a Release of Information form that will allow the BASICS staff to verify completion. 

An Evidence-Based Program

Penn State BASICS is based on a program created by Dr. Alan Marlatt, director, Addictive Behaviors Research Center and professor of psychology at the University of Washington. BASICS is one of the most effective alcohol education intervention programs for college students. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) has recognized BASICS as an evidence-based model program.

Good Samaritan Law

A person under the age of twenty-one will be protected from prosecution for the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages if law enforcement, including campus police, became aware of the possession or consumption solely because the individual was seeking medical assistance for someone else.