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Saturday, October 9, 2010


JMU provides an alcohol education program called BASICS. This program is evidenced based and in use nationwide. I have asked JMU for information about the effectiveness of the JMU program and will post that when I receive it.  One of my questions has to do with the premise that increased knowledge equals change in behavior.  The BASICS program may be effective in imparting knowledge about alcohol to at risk students but does it lead to change in alcohol behavior by students? We know that society has done a good job informing students about the association of tobacco use with cancer yet we still have a significant number of students who use tobacco products, so knowledge alone does not always lead to behavior change.

Below is a description of BASICS from the JMU web site.

What is BASICS?

At James Madison University, the University Health Center’s Substance Abuse Prevention coordinates BASICS - Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students. This evidence-based program is an early intervention strategy specifically designed for traditional college age students.
The BASICS program is designed to help students evaluate their risk and alcohol expectancies; it is not an abstinence based program.

Who is it for?

It is aimed at students who drink alcohol heavily and have experienced or are at risk for experiencing alcohol-related negative consequences.
The BASICS program is a service available to JMU students who want to consider changing or reducing their substance use. This may include students who:
  • self-refer
  • are referred by administrators, faculty/staff, coaches, or friends
  • are mandated by Judicial Affairs for a JMU alcohol policy violation
  • are court-mandated to complete substance abuse prevention hours


The BASICS program is comprised of two 50-minute interview sessions.
The first session retrieves information from the student about his/her substance use, using a self assessment instrument.
The second session is a feedback session designed to help the student assess his/her own behavior and potential risks, identify potential changes, and help reduce future problems related to substance abuse.
The program’s style is empathetic, non-confrontational, and non-judgmental, making it engaging to most college students.


Without the student’s consent, everything the student says in the sessions is confidential, unless the facilitator is required, by law, to break confidentiality to protect that student or somebody else from harm.
If you have questions about confidentiality or its limits, the facilitator will be able to answer these questions at the first session.

Scheduling BASICS

To discuss the appropriateness and scheduling of BASICS for an individual student, please contact Tia Mann (BASICS Prevention Specialist) at manntl@jmu.edu or 540-568-5501 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              540-568-5501      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

BASICS Effectiveness

In Fall 2009, the University Health Center’s Substance Abuse Prevention started to formally evaluate the effectiveness of BASICS at JMU. The evaluation includes a pre-test, 1-month posttest, and 3-month posttest design.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has given basics a Tier 1 classification, which includes "strategies that show evidence of effectiveness with college students." Many research studies have shown motivational interviewing to be effective in reducing peak BAC, typical BAC, negative consequences related to drinking, and quantity and frequency of drinking. For a comprehensive look at these studies, please visit http://www.motivationalinterview.org/library/outcome_files/frame.htm.

Basics Presentations

Motivational Interviewing


I have asked JMU for information on the effectiveness of the JMU BASICS program and will post that when it is received. 

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