Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Substance use disorders (SUDs) are among the most debilitating psychiatric disorders. Although prevalence rates of SUDs are similar between White and Black adults, these groups experience differential treatment outcomes (e.g., Black adults with SUDs are more likely to report greater pre- and post-treatment substance use). Examining culture-specific correlates of racial differences in substance use is vital to improve understanding of the etiological and maintaining mechanisms of SUDs among Black adults. Perceived racial discrimination (PRD) is prospectively related to various substance use-related outcomes. Thus, some may use substances to alleviate psychological distress (e.g., anxiety) associated with PRD, which may over time result in a SUD. Yet, there is a paucity of experimental examinations of the PRD-substance use relation. Participants were 152 Black undergraduate students (84.2% female, M age = 19.48) who reported baseline substance use. We tested the effect of PRD on substance use to determine whether experimentally manipulated PRD was related to greater increases in willingness to use, intention to use, and craving following the PRD induction (n = 51) compared to a non- PRD stress condition (n = 52) and a non-PRD/non-stress control condition (n = 49). Findings suggest that (compared to the control and non-PRD group) the PRD condition is indirectly related to post-task substance use willingness via the serial mediating effects of post-task PRD and post- task anger. The PRD condition is indirectly related to follow-up substance use frequency via the serial mediating effects of post-task PRD, post-task anger, and post-task willingness to use. Contrary to prediction, the non-PRD stress condition is indirectly related to follow-up substance use via post-task anger and willingness when compared to the control and PRD groups. These findings reveal an important pathway in the PRD-substance use frequency relation. Clinical implications, including possible PRD-related interventions for Black adults, are discussed.



Committee Chair

Buckner, Julia

Available for download on Friday, October 28, 2022