Carlos A. Cuevas


Amy S. Farrell, Ni He

Date of Award


Date Accepted


Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department or Academic Unit

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice


criminology, binge drinking, college stress, general strain theory, negative emotions, prescription drugs


Criminal Law


Traditional college students face a plethora of stresses that usually occurs simultaneously and includes college-related academic strains as well as personal stressors, such as interpersonal relationships and finances. The use of drugs and alcohol by the college population may be one way in which they ameliorate such strains, and is both a common and dangerous activity. This research uses General Strain Theory (GST) (Agnew, 1992) as the theoretical framework to examine the criminal and risky behaviors of the illicit use of prescription drugs, binge drinking, and the use of illegal drugs by college students. An online survey was administered to undergraduate students at two varied campus locations. Using path analysis, the data were examined using a cumulative strain measure and categorized strain variables, and were also analyzed by gender. The data revealed the importance of strain on certain behaviors and the significance of anger, depression and anxiety in relation to strains. Partial support for GST was also found in that anxiety mediated the relationship between strain and the illicit use of prescription drugs. Gender differences were also found with regard to the impact of certain strains on the dependent variables, as well as the effect of negative emotions. A discussion on the theoretical contributions and policy implications, such as educational programs or therapeutic interventions, is provided as well as directions for future research.

Document Type


Rights Information

copyright 2011

Rights Holder

Deborah T. Vegh

Click button above to open, or right-click to save.

Included in

Criminal Law Commons