Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Science


Drug abuse continues to be one of the most significant problems in the United States today. Attempts to understand drug abuse have produced numerous multidimensional prevention and treatment models. These models have resulted in the identification of psychological, social and biological risk factors related to drug abuse. In this study, the risk for drug abuse was assessed in 311 college students. A questionnaire was developed to measure risk. The questionnaire assessed risk for abuse predicted by the following factors: academic performance, coping and psychological health, religiosity, family and peer drug use, and the individual's past and current drug use. Based on their risk scores students were placed into low, medium, or high risk groups. The participants also completed the Purpose in Life Test and Life Attitude Profile-Revised questionnaire which measured meaning in life. The results indicated that high risk students scored significantly lower on the global and composite scores of meaning in life. Consistent with the theories of Viktor Frankl, a lack of meaning in life and existential vacuum were related to risk for drug abuse. The results of this study suggest that lack of meaning in life may be an important contributing factor to drug abuse. These data suggest that meaning in life is a relevant issue to be considered in the prevention and treatment of drug abuse.


Public Health | Substance Abuse and Addiction