The Effects of Substance Use on Whittier College Students Well being: Do Prevention Strategies Address The Change in Use Patterns Over Time?

Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


College could be described as a time when young people begin to distinguish themselves from their parents and develop their own identity. However, with this new found autonomy comes greater expectations and more responsibilities that often require those entering adulthood to make some fundamental changes in the way they interact with the world. According to previous research, if college students are not adequately prepared to meet these challenges the results can often manifest themselves in negative ways, namely, drug and alcohol use. This purpose of my study is to examine the effects of substance use on Whittier College students overall well being by measuring the negative impact that substance use has on a students academic performance and social life. Also, this study measures the change in frequency and quantity of use as students progress through college (freshman to senior year). 100 surveys were distributed to Whittier College students in order to assess specific negative consequences of use, frequency and quantity of use in an average week over the last year, class level, and primary drinking motives. Contrary to my initial hypothesis, the quantity and frequency of substance use did not decrease to the extent that I was expecting from freshman to senior year. Findings indicate that a number of junior and senior participants continued to use as much or more than they did when they were freshman and that as quantity and frequency of use increased, so too did the amount of negative consequences that a participant experienced. These findings suggest that students of the legal drinking age (which facilitates easier access to alcohol) as well as students who fall in between the ages of 18 and 21 may also be an important target group for prevention and intervention efforts along with incoming freshmen, who are typically the ones that are subjected to substance use prevention efforts. By understanding the specific substance use patterns and habits of Whittier College students, more precise and effective prevention and intervention efforts can be developed.


Access to this thesis is limited to the Whittier College community. Contact for additional information.

This document is currently not available here.