Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Criminal Justice

Degree Program

Criminal Justice, PhD

Committee Chair

Andreescu, Viviana

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Vito, Gennaro

Committee Member

Vito, Gennaro

Committee Member

Grossi, Elizabeth

Committee Member

Austin, Mark

Author's Keywords

American Indian; desistance; drug use; social bond theory; general theory of crime; adolescents


Informed by Hirschi’s (1969) social bond theory and by Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) general theory of crime (GTC), the proposed study intends to identify the factors more likely to differentiate drug-use desisters (i.e., adolescents who reported life-time usage, but did not report recent drug use) from those who never used drugs and from those who reported continuous use of drugs. The study is based on a quantitative analysis of survey data collected between 2009 and 2013 and obtained from a sample of American Indian (AI) adolescents, attending schools located on or near American Indian reservations. Although recent statistical information indicates that the risk of substance use is higher among AI subpopulation groups, recent analyses that identified the correlates of drug use among the subpopulation of AI adolescents are relatively sparse. Moreover, to the author’s knowledge there are no studies that attempted to identify the characteristics of AI adolescents who succeeded to stop using illegal drugs. The dissertation contributes to the limited literature that focuses on an understudied population subgroup (AI adolescents) and provides a better understanding of the factors associated with variations in substance use among AI adolescents and plans to provide information that may be used when social programs meant to prevent and reduce American Indian adolescents’ substance use are designed. Different from prior research that focused on the risk factors associated with substance misuse in adolescence, this study attempts to highlight the individual-level that predict abstention and desistance from drug use. Results show that both boys and girls who did not report drug use are more likely to have high school attachment, are more likely to be monitored by parents, and tend to be younger. Additionally, abstainers are less likely to have delinquent friends and a lower level of self-control. Different from what has been hypothesized, male and female AI adolescents who did not report lifetime or recent drug use tend to have a lower level of family attachment than their counterparts who use drugs. Compared to those who continued to use drugs, male and female adolescents who ceased using drugs associate significantly less with delinquent peers. Additionally, adolescent boys who desisted from drug use are more likely to report higher levels of school attachment, parental monitoring, and self-control than their male counterparts who continued to use drugs. The implications of the findings as well as the study limitations are further discussed, and recommendations for future research are presented.