Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Criminal Justice

Degree Program

Criminal Justice, PhD

Committee Chair

Higgins, George E.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Vito, Gennaro F.

Committee Member

Vito, Gennaro F.

Committee Member

Andreescu, Viviana

Committee Member

Golder, Seana

Author's Keywords

strain; depression; substance use; law enforcement; general strain theory; structural equation modeling


This dissertation examines the utility of general strain theory in explaining substance use as a form of coping among a sample of police officers in a Midwestern, metropolitan city. The dissertation is comprised of five chapters, including the introduction, literature review, method, results, and discussion. Chapter one describes the stressful nature of a career in law enforcement, concentrating on the adverse consequences of prolonged stress, including depression and substance use. Chapter one also examines strain, depression, and substance use among police officers using a general strain perspective, highlighting the limitations of existing empirical studies. Chapter two details the theoretical premise in relation to strain, depression, and substance use and also presents empirical evidence for general strain theory. Chapter three describes the data, sample, measures, and analytic strategy that will be used. In particular, participants were surveyed regarding their demographic characteristics, levels of strain, symptoms of depression, and frequency of substance use as a form of coping. Structural equation modeling will be used to analyze multiple research hypotheses among the latent measures of strain, depression, and substance use as a form of coping simultaneously. Chapter four describes the results of the data analyses. Chapter five discusses the anticipated findings within the context of the theoretical premise; provides policy implications; and highlights study limitations and directions for future research.