Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Dusten Hollist

Commitee Members

Bambi Douma, James Burfiend


adolescent, substance use, theory


University of Montana


The consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs among adolescents has been a growing concern in sociology and related disciplines (Hayes-Smith and Whaley 2009; Embry, Hankins, Biglan, and Boles 2009; Herman-Stahl, Krebs, Kroutil, Heller 2007). The societal and financial effects of substance use in Montana have been detrimental. For example, methamphetamine use accounted for 33 percent of children in foster care and over 50 percent of children were in foster care for drug-related reasons in 2006 (Methamphetamine in Montana 2008). Also, Bryant, Schulenberg, O’Malley, Bachman, and Johnston (2003) found consistent patterns in the prior literature that high truancy rates and low academic success is strongly related to students who participate in marijuana and alcohol use. Substance use is prevalent in the adolescent population and can lead to criminal behavior and be highly addictive with severe adverse health effects ranging from increased use of drugs to psychiatric disorders. (Fairbairn, Kerr, Buxton, Li, Montaner, and Wood 2006; Methamphetamine in Montana 2008). This age group was selected because previous research indicates that this is the age at which young people make the initial decision to use alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs (Wilson and Donnermeyer 2006). Motivators to use substances focus on its ability to make the user feel more concentrated, euphoric, and confident (Embry et al 2009; Herman-Stahl et al 2007). However, many substances have major health and safety consequences. Early initiation of substance use is associated with problem behavior, prolonged use of substances, early sexual behavior, unprotected sex among the teen population, which increases HIV infection rates along with other sexually transmitted diseases, and unexpected teen pregnancies (Embry et al 2009; Fairbairn et al 2007; Methamphetamine Use and Risk for HIV/AIDS 2007; Haynie 2002). The prevention of 2 substance use could have many health and public safety benefits. Studying the initiation of substance use among adolescents will help contribute to the development of prevention efforts. This study will examine theoretical correlates that have been significantly useful in the research on adolescent substance use to account for variations in alcohol, marijuana, and illicit drug use among a sample of Montana teens.



© Copyright 2011 Anthony James Feuchter