Measuring Drug and Alcohol Use Among College Student-Athletes

James N. Druckman, Mauro Gilli, Samara Klar, Joshua Robison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: Few issues in athletics today receive more attention than drug and alcohol usage, especially when it comes to college athletics. We seek to address self-report biases related to drug usage and heavy drinking. Methods: We employ an experimental measurement technique. Results: Our results suggest that a greater percentage of student-athletes from a major conference knowingly engage in these two behaviors than self-reports indicate. Specifically, we find 37 percent of respondents seem to have taken banned performance-enhancing drugs (compared to 4.9 percent who directly admit to doing so when asked), and 46 percent seem to have consumed more than five drinks in a week (compared to about 3 percent who openly admit to doing so). Conclusions: We provide evidence for the extent of self-underreporting when it comes to drug and alcohol usage among college athletes. That said, future work is needed to accurately pinpoint specific substances and the frequency with which they are taken; for example, it could be the percentage of individuals using banned substances stems from consuming significant concentrations of caffeine (e.g., multiple cups of coffee).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-380
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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