Document Type



Medicine and Health Sciences


The college years are a time for developing independence and separating from one’s family, and it is also a time in which substance use often escalates. This study examined the relationships between use of substances and interpersonal guilt, an emotion that can arise from feelings about separation, among 1,979 college students. Regular users of alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, and other illicit drugs were compared with non-regular users of each substance. Sequential linear regression, controlling for confounding variables, examined relationships between regular use of each substance and scores on a guilt index. Risky drinkers and daily smokers had significantly more interpersonal guilt than their peers who did not regularly use these substances. In contrast, regular cannabis users had significantly less guilt than non-regular cannabis users. These data suggest that substance use among college students may be related to interpersonal guilt and family separation issues, and this relationship may vary across substances.


Subst Abus. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2016 Mar 8. Published in final edited form as: Subst Abus. 2015; 36(1): 113–118. Published online 2015 Jan 22. doi: 10.1080/08897077.2014.885482 PMCID: PMC4782605 NIHMSID: NIHMS762464