BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening & Intervention for College Students) is a 2- to 3-session assessment and feedback process that allows you to:

  • Learn about your alcohol and other drug use in comparison with Cornell and national college norms.
  • Learn about the science of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and how safer “doses” of alcohol are unique to you.
  • Consider that your weight, the size and alcohol percentages of drinks, and pacing (versus quick pre-games) matter in terms of how a night goes. 
  • Learn about cannabis, tobacco, other substances and associated harm reduction strategies.
  • Consider becoming curious about your use of alcohol, cannabis, or other substances, and explore in a judgment-free environment how your alcohol or other substance use might be affecting your life.
  • Reflect in a confidential space about substance use questions and your desired outcomes.
  • Explore your self-care, stress reduction, academic, social, and sleep goals and values in relationship to substance use.
  • Assess your own risk factors and harm reduction strategies.
  • Identify potential changes that could help reduce harms and your risks of developing future problems.

About the program

Session I: BASICS initial appointment

During this introductory appointment, you will receive information about the program, start to learn about the science of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and get instructions for accessing and completing a web-based survey about your substance use. 

For most students, this session will be a one-hour telehealth group with a maximum of 5 students. You can share at your own level of comfort, using only your first name if you choose, and complete your BASICS survey during the group, asking questions as needed.

For some students who have had a medical emergency, received a Good Samaritan Protocol notice, or have already participated in BASICS, this will be a half-hour individual session (in person or via telehealth). 

Session II: BASICS feedback appointment

During Session II, you will receive a personalized profile based on the results of your BASICS survey. This confidential educational report will include a BAC chart based on your weight, as well as your identified harm reduction strategies for alcohol (and for cannabis, tobacco, and other substances as needed). Students will have the opportunity to discuss their results with a trained professional in a confidential, judgment-free environment.

Session II is an individual session typically lasting about 60 minutes. Appointments may be in person or via telehealth.

Session III: BASICS follow-up appointment

(optional for some students; required for others)

Session III is a follow-up appointment to allow for additional time to notice more about your substance use, discuss your harm reduction strategies with your BASICS provider, and try out new strategies.

This 30- to 45-minute appointment is optional for some participants, and part of the expectation for others. Your BASICS provider or referral source will provide you with additional information.

> See how to schedule BASICS appointments 

Why students participate in BASICS

Some students choose to participate in BASICS to learn more about their own behavior and how it compares with that of other Cornell students, especially if they want to learn more about safer alcohol or drug use. This is a crash course on blood alcohol concentration. It can be helpful if you’ve never used alcohol or other substances, to know more in advance or as a bystander about safer substance use. If you have had difficult experiences with overdoing alcohol, BASICS can help you identify new approaches. You might decide to refrain from alcohol use indefinitely, or commit to a month or longer “T-break” (tolerance break). Or you might strategize using smaller amounts of alcohol to avoid hangovers, vomiting, headaches, sleep disturbance and more dangerous poisoning effects like memory blackouts, passing out – or even death. Students are referred or encouraged to attend by friends, parents, Cornell Heath staff and other campus partners.

Other students may agree to participate in BASICS when found in violation of Cornell’s Code of Conduct or House Rules. If you and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (OSCCS) or Residential Life agreed that you will attend BASICS, remember that BASICS is meant as a non-punitive, non-judgmental, and confidential space to help you learn. Please note that your BASICS provider can confirm that you attended and completed the program, but nothing that you talk about will be shared.

Who may participate in Cornell's BASICS program

Eligible: Undergraduate and graduate students who elect to participate in BASICS and those who agree to participate in BASICS as a result of a campus violation may take BASICS through Cornell Health.

Not eligible: Students who have been mandated by the Ithaca City Court – or any other court – to complete BASICS cannot fulfill this requirement at Cornell Health. They may attend BASICS at the Alcohol & Drug Council of Tompkins County (607-274-6288) on Green Street in downtown Ithaca.


BASICS is offered at no cost to students, including those who agree to participate in BASICS as a result of a campus violation.


BASICS appointments are being provided in person and by secure Zoom platform, accessed through our patient portal, myCornellHealth. In-person appointments or telehealth are available for all but the Session I group sessions, which are currently offered by Zoom only.  

Scheduling a Session I appointment: 

Scheduling Session II & III appointments:

Following your Session I appointment, you will schedule subsequent appointments directly with your BASICS provider.

Cancelling / rescheduling appointments:

If you must cancel or reschedule your appointment, please do so by calling 607-255-5155 before 8:30 am on the day of your appointment. If your BASICS Provider has corresponded with you through secure messages in the myCornellHealth portal, you can ask questions or cancel through a secure message. 

Please note:

  • Before your Session II appointment: You must complete your online BASICS survey at least 48 hours before your Session II appointment, or you may be asked to reschedule. Students who participate in a Session I group will be able to complete their survey during their group meeting. Other participants will be asked to take 15-20 minutes to carefully fill out the survey between the first and second appointments. (The BASICS survey is not in your Cornell Health portal, but is a web-based survey for which you will be provided an invitation code during or just after your first appointment.)
  • Missed appointments: Due to some periods of high demand for BASICS, students who miss two BASICS appointments by not attending or last-minute cancellations may become ineligible to participate in BASICS at Cornell Health. BASICS staff may refer these students back to their referral source.


If you have more questions about BASICS, call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155. If you have specific questions for a BASICS provider, please ask that the provider call you or send you a secure message through myCornellHealth. (Be sure to check your secure messages in myCornellHealth, and choose to receive text notifications. To preserve confidentiality, your BASICS provider and other Cornell Health providers cannot text or email you.)

More about BASICS

The Cornell version of BASICS is based on research conducted at the University of Washington and Western Washington University. Its aim is to reduce high-risk use of alcohol and other drugs as well as the potentially harmful problems associated with such use. In the words of the authors who conceptualized BASICS, “it is non-confrontational, non-judgmental, non-authoritarian, and non-labeling."*

* Dimeff, L., Baer, J., Kivlahan, D., & Marlatt, G. (1999). Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students. The Guilford Press.