An Investigation of Alcohol, Cigarette, and Drug Use, and Other Lifestyle Behaviors Among College Women


Melissa Davis

Date of Graduation

Spring 2001


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Kathryn Hope


Alcohol, cigarette, and drug use, and other high-risk lifestyle behaviors are linked to increased morbidity and mortality. High-risk behaviors are a leading health problem for young adults, including young women. Participation in high-risk lifestyle behaviors by young women who are in their prime reproductive years may have numerous adverse consequences in pregnancy. Few studies have been performed that describe patterns of alcohol, cigarette, and drug use, which includes prescription and over-the-counter medication use and usage pattersn among young women. One objective of this study was to describe patterns of alcohol and drug use among young women, and to describe the relationship between these patterns and other lifestyle behaviors, such as sexual practices and nutritional habits. Because young women are in their peak reproductive years, this study also describes the patterns of alcohol, drug, and medication use in relation to pregnancy guidelines. A secondary research analysis using data gathered by Hope (1998) was performed. The original study was a cross-sectional survey examining college women's risk factors and knowledge of risk factors regarding preconception health. The present study found that 27.8% of the study sample reported current use of alcohol, 11.5% reported current use of cigarettes, and 4.7% reported current use of marijuana. Additionally, 29.9% reported using over-the-counter medications, 22.3% reported using prescription medications, and 25.9% reported using both. This study found significant relationships between dietary deficiencies and illegal drug use; dieting to lose weight with alcohol and medication use; sexual activity and illegal drug use; and perceived risk for contracting HIV with alcohol and illegal drug use. Information from this survey will increase the knowledge of over-the-counter and prescription medication use, as wells as alcohol, tobacco, and drug use in women of prime childbearing age. Information from this survey also will increase the knowledge base of nutritional habits and sexual practices among women of childbearing age.

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© Melissa Davis