Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Sarah Schwartz


Sarah Schwartz


Jamison Fargo


Sarfaraz Serang


Troy Beckert


Ryan Seedall


Substance misuse during the transition to adulthood can be problematic, but it is also socially celebrated. There can be negative short-term impacts associated with intoxication, but are there negative long-term impacts of substance misuse on the transition into adulthood?

Let us pause for a moment. Many individuals may have just glazed over thinking, “Adulthood? I’m not doing that any time soon.” But when you consider what qualifies individuals as adults, this research may seem more pertinent. Adults make their own choices. Adults take responsibility for those choices. Adults are financially independent. So, while the notion of adulthood may conjure images of the suburbs and stability, adulthood as actually the ability to be self-sufficient. Something we are all working towards.

This research looked at the young adult self-sufficiency outcomes between individuals who have patterns of substance misuse as they transition to adulthood and those who had minimal misuse. Specifically, we considered individuals who Matured-Out of substance use and individuals who continued to use. Continuing users were further divided into Continuing-Cannabis or Continuing-Illicit patterns.

For the most part, those who Matured-Out by young adulthood had similar developmental outcomes compared to those who did not misuse substances during the transition to adulthood. Those who continued to use cannabis or illicit substances into young adulthood, however, were less self-sufficient as young adults.

These findings have important implications for policies that promote cannabis legalization. As cannabis becomes increasingly available, policymakers and community leaders should have an eye on providing the necessary supports to help young adults gain self-sufficiency regardless of legalization status.