Experienced Harms from Substance Use Among College Students: A Latent Class Analysis


Social Work and Sociology

Document Type


Publication Source

Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. Volume 29, Issue 7, Pages 937-953.

Publication Date



Many college students experience personal consequences from their own substance use as well as secondhand effects resulting from other students’ substance use. Our study identifies meaningful subgroup response patterns representing the construct of experienced harms, that is, the combined harms resulting from personal substance use and the substance use of others. In this sample six latent classes of harms experienced by participants were identified. The classes ranged from a No Harms group to a group of eleven harms – Severe Harms. We demonstrated that harms class membership was directly related to the level of involvement with substances. As the level of substance use increased – demonstrated by membership in latent classes of progressive involvement with substances – the odds of membership in a more serious experienced harms class increased. Participants reporting early onset of any substance were more likely to be members in any of the experienced harms latent classes than members of the No Harms class. Elucidating the exposure to harm associated with college student substance use behavior through an expanded focus on the patterns of experienced effects (i.e., personal consequences and secondhand effects) advances current research on a nationally-recognized problem.


personal consequences, secondhand effects, secondhand harms, early onset, college students, marijuana use, alcohol use, latent class analysis