Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Social Work

Degree Program

Social Work, PhD

Committee Chair

Archuleta, Adrian

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Miller, Shawnise

Committee Member

Miller, Shawnise

Committee Member

Perry, Armon

Committee Member

Moore, Matt

Author's Keywords

National association of intercollegiate athletics; athletes; substance use; college athletes; student athletes


The NCAA and NAIA have conducted prevalence studies of substance use in their organizations but little research into risk and protective factors that influence usage. Substance use is associated with an array of consequences including negative academic impacts, criminal charges, health risks, and mental health. As the most reported substances used by student-athletes the study focused on alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine. This study specifically examined several risk and protective factors impacting substance use. This study utilized a secondary data analysis of information gathered from the NAIA Substance Use and Abuse Study conducted in 2020 with student-athletes (N=2489). Descriptive statistics, parametric tests, non-parametric tests, and multiple regression was utilized to conduct statistical analysis for the research questions. The researcher created composite variables of substance use that incorporated self-reported levels of current usage for alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine. Data for the three identified substances of interest were combined to create a global score of substance use. There were multiple significant findings identified in this research study. The first was reported levels of substance use significantly increased for males 21 and above from those 18-20. Substance use at public universities was significantly higher than at private universities, with the lowest usage at private faith-based institutions. Data shows that who a student-athlete lived with impacted their substance use and those living with fellow athletes have the highest rates of usage. A significant factor analyzed in this study for influencing current substance use was when they started using i.e., before high school, high school, or college. Results support that athletic departments need to address substance use for male athletes 21 and older. Public universities need to evaluate private institutions, specifically private faith-based institutions, to better understand what can be done to decrease substance use on their campuses. Athletic departments at the college and high school level should work to identify athletes with substance use early, increase education, and examine potential evidence-based interventions to decrease substance use. One potential concept for creating a positive impact on substance use among student-athletes is the incorporation of social workers in athletic departments and organizations across college sports.

Included in

Social Work Commons