Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Women college students-Alcohol use, Women college students-Psychology, Development, Alcohol use, College age populations, Women, Harm reduction


This study explores the role of alcohol in college age women along specific developmental transitions. Alcohol use and abuse is rampant on college campuses nationwide yet most students discontinue such use with the onset of adulthood. Given this high period of use in young adults, this research attempts to clarify which areas of development that alcohol may effect and how. Thirteen women who graduated from a four year college or university within the past 5 years were interviewed regarding their alcohol use and experiences amid specific developmental processes. A structured alcohol use questionnaire assessed participants' typical consumption during college years and open ended questions were used to explore their college experiences. The findings of the research revealed that respondents connected their use of alcohol with changes in their peer and romantic or sexual relationships. Alcohol was reported to enhance bonding experiences as friendships were initiated and became progressively more intimate. Similarly, participants reported that alcohol use aided to create and foster connections with sexual or romantic partners. These findings suggest the use of a harm reduction approach to drinking on college campuses, given the important developmental transitions during this life period that are often connected to alcohol use.




iii, 68 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 55-57)