Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice


Individuals incarcerated for both drug-defined crimes and non-drug defined crimes are often substance users. In fact, the percent of arrestees in the United States that test positive for any drug at intake range from a low of 52% in Washington, D.C., to a high of 83% in Chicago, IL (ONDCP, 2011). Prior research has noted the negative relationship between risk perception and actual behavior. My study examined the influence of prior experiences and social environment on substance users' perceived risk of substance use. The sample consisted of adults indicating use of any illicit substance in the past year (N=9,277) in the 2009 National Survey of Drug Use and Health. Responses to risk perception of use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and LSD were correlated with past experiences of mental health treatment, substance use treatment, arrest, depression and social environment variables. Past year treatment involvement was not found to be a predictor of risk perception. The social environment variables of age at first use, and ease of obtaining illicit drugs were found to be the strongest predictors of risk perception across all drug-types.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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