The Center for College Health and Safety in EDC’s Health and Human Development Programs (HHD) is partnering with the University of Washington’s Addictive Behaviors Research Center (ABRC) in a first-in-the nation effort to train campuses to implement an individual-focused intervention that has proven to be effective in moderating students’ drinking patterns and reducing alcohol related harms.
College student drinking is a widespread problem that affects entire campuses and their surrounding communities. The grim consequences of student drinking include a decline in students’ academic performance, high-risk sexual behaviors, vandalism, assaults, impaired driving, among other negative physical and mental health outcomes. Even with sound alcohol prevention programming in place on campus, some students are still problem drinkers. Whether they came to school with pre-existing drinking problems or developed them while in college, it is imperative that administrators find a way to intervene with these students to change their drinking behaviors.
One promising intervention is the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS). BASICS moves beyond prevention by intervening with students who drink heavily and may be at risk for alcohol-related problems. BASICS consists of two 50-minute sessions and can be implemented in many settings, including university-based health and mental health centers, campus residences, and administrative offices. Students who complete BASICS receive feedback about their drinking behaviors in a non-judgmental manner intended to meet the student where they are and motivate alcohol-related attitude and behavior changes. BASICS research has shown that the intervention does in fact prompt students to lower their alcohol consumption and successfully reduces negative consequences when students do choose to drink.
Recognizing the positive impact BASICS can have in changing students’ high-risk drinking patterns, HHD and ABRC have formed the BASICS Statewide Implementation Project. Supported by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and various state-based funders, the project is the only effort in the U.S. that provides in-depth preparation to campuses statewide about the successful implementation of BASICS. HHD and ABRC provide teams of campus stakeholders with services such as training and planning sessions that focus on securing resources, building capacity, training staff, and maintaining fidelity to the intervention while making the adaptations needed to address unique campus needs.
Laurie Davidson, HHD’s Director of the BASICS Statewide Implementation Project, describes the importance of training campuses to properly implement the intervention: “The efficacy of BASICS is strongly supported by the research, but the real challenge for campuses is to bridge the gap between research and real-world practice on different types of campuses. The training and technical assistance that HHD developed with researchers at the University of Washington’s Addictive Behaviors Research Center helps campuses identify the infrastructure needed to support and sustain an effective BASICS intervention.”
Dr. George Parks of the ABRC comments, “What these BASICS trainings are providing is a clarification of the appropriate standard of care for college and university students that is grounded in the adoption of evidence-based practices.”
HHD’s Center for College Health and Safety, a long-time leader in preventing and addressing high-risk alcohol use on campus, is enthusiastic about including BASICS as part of its comprehensive strategy to address college drinking and the resulting harms to students, the campus, and the surrounding community. Since its beginning in 2005, the BASICS Statewide Implementation Project has trained two states—Massachusetts and Florida—in BASICS implementation, with four other states interested in receiving training in the next few months.
Lore Detenber, Coordinator of Alcohol at Drug Education Services at Western New England College, attended the Massachusetts training and said, “The training included practical ways to adapt BASICS to my setting, clear theoretical underpinning, data on effectiveness, technical assistance, sample materials, practice time and encouragement. I’m very grateful to have been provided such a wealth of resources and support.”
Originally published on June 1, 2006