Alcohol and Other Drugs Services

Attending college presents many unique opportunities for making independent decisions. Many of the decisions are healthy and beneficial to a student's growth and maturation; however some choices can be detrimental to a student's well-being.

Students may be exposed to access to substances such as alcohol or other drugs (AOD) on any college campus; Vanderbilt has policies in place to discourage underage or problematic use of alcohol or other drugs as defined in the Student Handbook located here.

Use of alcohol and other drugs may present legal risks and or health risks. If you are concerned about your level of substance use, please know that we at the Psychological and Counseling Center offer many types of AOD services that will provide you with support here and throughout the Vanderbilt community.  We work in close partnership with the Center for Student Wellbeing which provides alcohol education and assessment, with the Office or Student Accountability which refers students who violate campus policies regarding use of alcohol and other substances and with Vanderbilt Recovery Support which provides support groups and housing for those in recovery from AOD Use Disorders.

The following AOD services are offered at PCC:

  • Screening-- All students coming to the PCC, regardless of the reason, take the Alcohol Use Disorders Screening Test (AUDIT) as part of their initial assessment to identify student level of risk for AOD problems.
  • Education regarding health implications of substance use—All PCC staff members are trained to identify possible AOD problems and to address risky behavior.
  • Specialized Assessment--BASICS and other evidence-based instruments may be used to determine the best services for each student.
    • BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students) is an assessment instrument that allows students to explore the impact of alcohol and other drugs on mental health and education.  Sometimes the Office of Student Accountability requires students  to take BASICS through the Center for Student Wellbeing because of an incident involving alcohol or other drugs.  PCC counselors can also refer students to take BASICS at the PCC if AOD use is having a negative impact on their mental health or on their academic or social functioning.
  • Specialized therapists—members of the AOD Team are available as consultants to other staff members about students’ AOD issues.  Those students with significant problems are seen by Team members.
  • Group therapy
    • The Motivation for Change Group assists students in evaluating and exploring readiness for change.
    • Changing Course Group is designed to meet the unique needs of students who have been affected by someone else’s AOD use, in the present or in the past.
  • Medical Assessment and Management
    • A qualified medical team is available to assess for medical treatment of co-occurring conditions and/ or evidence based treatments of substance use disorders.
  • Referral to other resources as indicated.

Our Philosophy

We recognize that AOD use takes place on a continuum:


We acknowledge that there is greater likelihood of significant change if students set their own goals.  We meet students where they are, ranging from recovery with a goal of abstinence, to motivation to begin to explore changes in choices, consistent with a harm reduction model.

We recognize that students at the end of the continuum above, may not be ready to attain and sustain moderation, and those students are given the support and assistance that they need to enter a recovery program.  Members of the AOD Team have prior experience working in treatment centers and are well-equipped to work with students in recovery. 

We believe that students at the lower and middle range of the continuum can learn to make more responsible choices about their behavior with an appropriate amount of information, support, and therapeutic services.

We know that AOD use often co-exists with other mental health problems, and we address these issues with attention to both, since improvement in one area may not be possible without improvement in the other as well.  Members of the AOD Team work with staff therapists and medical providers to develop treatment approaches accordingly.


  • Abstinence/recovery

    • Center for Student Wellbeing - 615-322-0480
      • Vanderbilt Recovery Support—Two meetings a week.  To be added to email list, send message to  
      • Recovery housing—For people established in recovery, contact  the Center for Student Wellbeing  for details
    • In the community
      • Support groups
      • Detox, Residential treatment, Intensive Outpatient Programs—Contact PCC AOD Team Leader for assistance (
  • Moderation/Harm reduction



  • For Parents

    • How to talk about alcohol with a first year college student 
    • The transition to adulthood places unique psychological and developmental demands on college-age students. At the PCC, we encourage a comprehensive approach to addressing these challenges, including the value of parents in providing support to students as they navigate their lives at Vanderbilt.
      • Please understand that we work within the boundaries of FERPA to protect student information and within the boundaries of HIPAA to protect patient information. We are available to talk with parents about their general concerns but require consent from the student to discuss specific issues, including whether or not your student is being seen at the PCC.
      •  If you have concerns about your child’s substance use please contact our AOD team for an initial education session (615-322-2571 or
    • Partnership for Drug-free kids
    • College Drinking: Changing the Culture