Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

William H. Green

Second Advisor

John B. Youngberg

Third Advisor

Curtis J. VanderWaal


Problem. Various studies examined the relationship between youth, drug use, and the role that families play in influencing such use. Thus, it is evident that youth use drugs, and thereasons for their drug use vary widely. However, there have not been widespread research done on the youth who do not use drugs, particularly from a family perspective. Also, no research study has been known to be conducted on St. Martin of such nature.

Purpose. This study sought to gain an understanding on how selected familial dynamics functioned within three families in deterring their youth from becoming involved in drugs.

Methodology. This qualitative study used three mothers and youths within three different family structures selected by purposive sampling to explain why the youth avoided drugs. These structures were single-parent, stepparent, and two biological parent families. Data were collected through tape-recorded interviews, field notes, and reflective journal. For clarification purposes, data information from the informants was additionally provided via fax and telephone calls. A cross-case analysis was conducted and presented in text and tables.

Findings and conclusions. The findings provided an understanding of the youths' drug avoidance. The themes that emanated from the data were grouped within three selected familial dynamics chosen from previous research literature. The familial dynamics are relational, environmental, and religious. The study showed that the youths, relationships with their immediate and extended families either positively or negatively affected their decision to avoid drugs.

Additionally, the study revealed that all three youths were faced with positive and negative influences from friends, neighbors, and schools; yet, they maintained a drug-free lifestyle. A number of themes grouped within the religious dynamics were also instrumental in helping steer the youths from drug use. These themes were both internal and external as theyrelated to the families' religiosity and their church affiliation.

The study found that these youth had three catalysts against drug allurements, the relationship they experienced with their families, how they interacted with their environment, and their commitment and involvement in religious activities. The themes grouped within the relational, environmental, and religious dynamics aided in keeping these youths drug-free.

Subject Area

Youth--St. Martin--Drug use--Prevention, Substance abuse--St. Martin--Prevention

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