BASICS is designed to assist students in examining their drinking and other drug-use behavior in a judgment-free environment. BASICS 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 all registered undergraduate, graduate, and professional students on the Morningside campus, including Affiliated Schools: Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary.

BASICS involves an initial meeting with a BASICS provider, the completion of an online assessment, and a second meeting with the same provider. Appointments can be scheduled with a BASICS provider online and a variety of times and days are offered. If you are interested in self-referring to BASICS, please complete the Alcohol Self-Assessment or Marijuana Self-Assessment.

If you have questions about BASICS or other substance use related issues, please email or check out the Alcohol and Other Drugs fact sheets for more information.


What can I expect during a BASICS appointment?

During BASICS appointments, students also have the opportunity to discuss any issues or concerns, including sleep and mental health. BASICS is administered through Alice! Health Promotion, a part of Columbia Health.

How are students referred to BASICS?

Students may be referred to see a BASICS provider in one of three ways: self-referral, soft referral, and mandatory referral.


The self-referral option is available to all students on campus. If students are concerned about their relationship with alcohol or you would like to learn more about how to maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol, the self-referral option may be a good option. To refer yourself to BASICS, simply complete the brief Anonymous Alcohol Self-Assessment. At the end of the assessment, you have the option to participate in BASICS. If you are interested in participating in BASICS, simply click the icon “Yes, I am interested in BASICS”. Taking the self-assessment does not commit you to being contacted by a provider. The self-assessment will be anonymous unless you specifically request to be contacted.

This brief screening tool is not intended to serve as a substitute for a complete substance use evaluation. If you feel that it would be beneficial for you to receive assistance for alcohol or other drug related concerns, please speak with your health care provider. This service is available to Columbia students on the Morningside campus and the Medical Center campus as well as Teachers College.

Soft Referral

Soft referrals are for students 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 who has concerns about a student’s health related to substance use
  • Mental health provider who has concerns about a student’s substance use

Mandatory Referral

Mandatory referrals are for students whom BASICS is required. There is a network of trained mandatory referrers across campus, including various Deans, Residential Programs staff, Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards staff, and other administrators on campus. Examples of mandatory referrals may include:

  • CU-EMS transports for alcohol or other drug related reason
  • Violations of school policies or other students’ rights (e.g. sexual harassment) in which alcohol or other substance 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 tat the mandatory referrer’s discretion if BASICS would be an appropriate educational option for those in violation of policies, procedures, or regulations that are related to alcohol or other substance abuse or misuse on or off campus. It’s important to emphasize that a 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 questions about BASICS, email

How do I find out if BASICS is available at my school?

Similar services are available at numerous other colleges and universities around the country. Please check with the health, counseling, or health promotion services on your campus to determine if the service is available or to be referred to another appropriate program. More information about substance abuse issues is available from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

What other departments or services could I contact about my alcohol use?

Columbia University students can also contact Counseling & Psychological Services (CPS) at (212) 854-2878 during scheduled office hours. For after hours, you can contact the clinician on call at (212) 854-9797. Services provided by CPS are free and confidential to Columbia students.

Is BASICS available for employees, alumni, or other non-students?

BASICS is currently unavailable to employees, alumni, or other non-students. Some Columbia University staff and administrators may serve as referrers to the program. Students may be referred to see a BASICS provider through self-referral, soft referral, or mandatory referral.

Last updated May 04, 2017