Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Jamie Shapiro

Second Advisor

Neil Gowensmith

Third Advisor

Harlan Austin


Substance abuse, Athelte, Rehabilitation, Treatment program, Evaluation


The focus of this study was to examine the experiences of two past participants of an athlete­-specific drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Researchers have discussed the vulnerability of an athlete population and prevalence of substance use among athletes ( e.g., Turrisi, Mastroleo, Mallett, Larimer, & Kilmer, 2007; Martens, Watson, Royland, & Beck, 2005). Some rehabilitation programs and specific approaches to treating substance abuse in athletes have started to emerge and are beginning to be discussed in the literature (Donahue et al., 2014). However, there remains a gap in the research of studies examining the experiences of these athletes who have been going through such programs. The present study aimed to understand the benefits and pitfalls of this specific athlete rehabilitation program. Higher order themes that emerged were overall benefits of attending this program, recommendations of what could improve, and the lessons that were learned throughout the program. Lower order themes for benefits included: athlete culture, improved performance, and a new relationship with substances; lower order themes for room for improvement were: missed opportunities, staff and participants, and analytical data; and the lower order themes for lessons learned included a new way of life and awareness. The study also has implications for what may be important for future providers and program designers to consider when tailoring substance abuse treatment to athletes.

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

Publication Statement

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33 pages