Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Arnold L. Stolberg


Substance abuse problems affect all segments of society including collegiate athletics. Drug testing programs are viewed as one method of combating this problem, however, more emphasis should be placed upon developing effective prevention programs. Towards this end, the first purpose of this study was to draw from available literature to design a prevention program which would cater to the specific needs of student- athletes. The position is taken that since multiple factors such as genetic predisposition, the pharmacological properties of various substances, psychological variables, and environmental/socio-cultural influences are implicated in the etiology of substance abuse difficulties, multi-focused/broad-spectrum intervention programs would likely be the most effective prevention strategies. Previous substance abuse prevention research has further suggested that the following core areas should be addressed in programs of this type: 1) education; 2) decision-making skills; 3) interpersonal/communication skills; and 4) alternative coping methods. Following this lead, the program utilized in the current investigation consisted of three major components: Education; Skill Training for Prevention; and Skills to Deal with Peer Pressure. Catering to the specific needs of the student-athlete population, the educational component addressed both performance- enhancing as well as recreational/"street" drugs. Specific skill areas addressed in the program included: decision-making/risk assessment; stress management; assertiveness training; and training in the ability to resist peer pressure. A transfer enhancement component was also included

to maximize the transfer of learned skills to outside settings. The additional purposes of this investigation were: to Evaluate the overall effectiveness of this program, as well as the effectiveness of its individual components; and to Identify factors associated with pre- intervention usage patterns of student-athletes for the purpose of guiding future program development efforts. Fifty-eight student-athletes were recruited from both men's and women's varsity athletic teams at Virginia Commonwealth University to participate in this program and were randomly assigned to either the Intervention or the Delayed Intervention/Control conditions. Participants in both conditions completed a variety of questionnaires at pre-intervention, post- intervention, and at a two-month follow-up session. Instruments utilized for this study assessed data from the following three categories: 1) Process Measures (knowledge, attitudes, adjustment, and skill level); 2) Outcome (alcohol, drug, and tobacco usage patterns); and 3) Compliance to Completion of assignments. Results based upon these data suggested that: participation in the intervention program resulted in a significant, yet delayed, decrease in general anxiety level; the degree to which participants used adaptive coping skills was inversely related to self-reported alcohol consumption; and that social/environmental risk factors and pro-usage attitudes were positively related to actual usage patterns of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco products prior to intervention. These significant findings, the factors which potentially accounted for the overall lack of significant results relative to the number of analyses run, and additional comments/observations based upon the writer's experience implementing this program are discussed in terms of: 1) Intervention Implications; 2) Active Ingredients; 3) Pertinent Predictor Variables; 4) Future Directions; and 5) Limitations of the study.


Scanned, with permission from the author, from the original print version, which resides in University Archives.


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