Degree Date


Document Type

Thesis- Public Access

Degree Name

Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy

Academic Discipline

Community Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Viola Judah

Second Advisor

Dr. Bradley Olson

Third Advisor

Dr. Ericka Mingo


Drug abuse negatively impacts the life and well-being of those who use drugs; this harm often extends to their loved ones, communities, and society. One presumptive set of psychological explanations for drug abuse is an addictive personality, a psychological susceptibility resulting from challenging family relationships, inadequate reinforcement, the absence of healthy role models, conflicting parental expectations, and a lack of love and respect. Harm reduction is a public health approach that focuses on minimizing the harmful effects of drugs and reducing judgment. It aims to meet people where they are in life and provide judgment-free, empathetic, supportive, and needed medical psychosocial outreach. More harm reduction-focused services would likely improve public health and build supportive communities to achieve superior healthcare outcomes. A greater combination harm reduction with a greater reliance on community empowerment through collaboration would likely facilitate the political will and investment needed to keep people with drug use disorders healthy and safe until they are ready to access and receive treatment.