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Freshman Attitudes and Behavior Toward Drugs: A Comparison by Year and Gender

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An anonymous questionnaire concerning attitudes and behavior toward drugs was administered to a random sample of 364 incoming freshmen (49% male and 51% female) in 1978, and to 499 (56% male and 44% female) incoming freshmen in 1988. Results of this study indicated a similar pattern of decline in drug use as exhibited nationwide. There was a significant decline in incidence rates of nine substances over 10 years, as well as a greater percentage of students who reported that they have never used certain substances. Gender differences have lessened; only beer and cigarettes in 1978 and beer in 1988 were significantly different by gender in incidence rate. There were significant differences by gender in 1988 on reasons for not using 12 drugs; yet, there were no significant differences on reasons for using drugs. Freshmen in 1988 also appeared more cautious and conservative regarding both use and legalization of certain substances. Other results are presented and implications for student affairs programming are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1990

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  • The Journal of The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition is a semiannual refereed journal providing current research on the first college year and other significant student transitions. The primary purpose of the Journal is to disseminate empirical research findings on student transition issues that inform practice in all sectors of postsecondary education, such as explorations into the academic, personal, and social experiences (including outcomes related to success, learning, and development) of students at a range of transition points throughout the college years; transition issues unique to specific populations (e.g., non-traditional, traditional, historically underrepresented students, transfer students, commuters, part-time students); and explorations of faculty development, curriculum, and pedagogical innovations connected to college transitions.
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