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Triggers and risk factors of substance use among college athletes

1 January 2015


The present study represents a current outlook on the frequency and perception of drug use among college student athletes. An exploratory study design was constructed to identify a variety of factors that likely contribute to the frequency and perception of substance use among college athletes. The sample consisted of 272 college students in the United States who currently participate in an intercollegiate sport. A self-report measure, Substance Use Among College Athletes Questionnaire, was constructed that consists of 39 Likert scale, categorical, Yes/No, and open-ended items that have been carefully selected to tap into participants’ current perceptions and rates of substance use. The results indicated team rules had a greater impact on respondents’ drug use compared to the impact of NCAA regulations and state laws, NCAA regulations impacted players differently among divisions (i.e., Division I, II, or III), athletes were drug tested at different frequencies among divisions, and relatively few athletes used counseling services. Qualitative data were gathered from a number of open-ended questions, and response themes were analyzed to inform treatment recommendations. The results and recommendations of the study are intended to help provide college and university staff and faculty throughout the United States more holistic wellness services for college student athletes. Treatment recommendations are discussed, in addition to limitations of the present study and suggestions for future research.


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