Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Criminal Justice Sciences

First Advisor

Philip Mulvey


Criminal justice involvement stemming from substance use is a common issue with whichmilitary veterans struggle. Research on substance use has indicated that a multitude of negative life-course outcomes can result for individuals who abuse substances. While prior research has studied the relationships between substance use and military veterans, there is little empirical analysis that focuses on the narrative accounts of veterans and their experiences with substance use. The goal of the current thesis is to expand on this topic by exploring how criminally involved veterans experience substance use and the perceived impact substance use has on the life-course according to their own narrative accounts. This thesis analyzed the interview content of a sample of 90 criminally involved veterans, utilizing qualitative secondary data analysis to explore the narrative accounts of substance use, before, during, and after military service. Overall, by applying an inductive approach, results from this sample of criminally involved veterans revealed three key findings: (1) Substance use throughout the life-course was prevalent within this sample. Almost the entire sample of veterans reported a significant relationship with substances at some point throughout the life-course. veterans further discussed how their substance use typically increased during and/or after their military service. (2) Criminally involved veterans in the current sample considered how their substance use was closely associated with their criminal involvement, indicating they were involved in the criminal justice system for various reasons stemming from their relationships with substance use. (3) Substance use was described by veterans interviewed as a behavior that led to negative emotional and socio-behavioral outcomes, with several veterans even indicating that substance use altered their life-course trajectories. Narrative accounts of substance use revealed that criminally involved veterans thought their substance use impacted important life-course areas like general health and well-being over time, employment, romantic relationships, homelessness, and even suicidal ideation/behavior. Given these findings, policy recommendations are considered on how to best assist criminally involved veterans with substance use issues.


Imported from Marcheschi_ilstu_0092N_11839.pdf


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