CASICS

Cannabis Screening and Intervention of College Students is a service at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that helps students overcome their issues with cannabis.

Brigham Scott, psychologist at Counseling and Psychological Services and alcohol and drug services coordinator, said CASICS is based off of Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention of College Students. About four years ago, Scott said he used the BASICS curriculum as a basis for CASICS.

CASICS is two sessions that are a week apart and last one hour each, according to Scott. 

In the first session, there is an assessment of a student’s cannabis use. Scott said the assessment is like a semi-structured interview that covers different factors, such as how often the student is using, what types of cannabis they are using and if it is having a positive or negative impact in their lives.

During the first session, the student is given a collaborative homework assignment, according to Scott. 

For example, Scott said if a student is smoking every day and they want to cut down to half of that, for their homework assignment they could be asked to monitor and log how often and how much they smoke.

“A part of this is increasing awareness into their use, rather than just doing it and doing it impulsively without thinking about it,” Scott said.

For the second session, the student is provided with feedback and recommendations about their cannabis use, and they are told research that aligns with what is going on with their cannabis use, according to Scott. Scott said there is a lot of misinformation about cannabis and whether it is good or bad, so it is important to provide students with reliable research.

Scott said the program is not to tell students what they should do about their cannabis use, but to help cannabis users have less adverse impacts and more positive ones.

“The philosophy of the whole program is it’s not to be judgmental of people for using cannabis,” Scott said.

CASICS can be used as a sanctioning tool, so if a student gets in trouble with Student Conduct & Community Standards or UNL’s Police Department, they can be mandated to go through CASICS, according to Scott. 

Marty Fehringer, assistant chief of police for UNLPD, said there are a variety of situations, like during a welfare check or a concerned phone call from a family member, where UNLPD officers make referrals to student conduct about students who may qualify to be mandated. 

When UNLPD refers a student to student conduct, they give a brief description of the type of situation involving the student, and then student conduct evaluates it and determines if the student should be mandated to do CASICS or if they require other resources, according to Fehringer.

“We’re trying to make students as successful as they can be and the reason why we provide those students with resources is to make them be successful in their college career,” Fehringer said.

If a student is mandated, the two sessions cost $150, according to Scott.

“We do this because it’s based on research on intervention to make it more effective,” Scott said. “The punishment of financial consequences actually gets people who aren’t interested in making changes in their alcohol or drug use to actually start thinking ‘maybe I should be a little more aware of my drug or alcohol use.’”

If a student is not mandated, then CASICS is completely free for students, according to Scott. 

Scott said there is a lot of stigma associated with substance use treatment and mental health, which can make people afraid to come to CASICS because they believe they are going to be judged.

“I think the importance of CASICS is how we do it in the tone that we conduct,” Scott said. “CASICS is very supportive, non-judgmental and very collaborative. It’s very much asking the clients what they want out of this process rather than somebody who is in an authority position telling them what they should do.”

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