Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Bethany Flora

Committee Members

Bill Flora, Louise Dickson, Pamela Scott


Substance abuse is an area of concern for college administrators, and they have implemented campus programming in an attempt to address it. Additionally, prior researchers have studied substance abuse on college campuses in order to better understand how substance abuse affects student success. However, limited research exist that addresses the unique perspective of college students who are in recovery from substance abuse, and most studies were conducted in 4-year institutions rather than community colleges. This qualitative case study explored the transition experiences of female students in recovery who attend community college or have recently graduated. The sample included students from 3 community colleges. Participants were selected using prescreening surveys and interviews with 10 female participants.

Common themes emerged from the analysis of the interview data regarding reasons for enrolling, struggles, supports, and a definition of success as it relates to transition to community college. Participant responses indicated that common struggles revolve around financial stress, academic deficiencies, time management strategies, and the lack of a positive culture regarding substance abuse and recovery on their campuses. However, academic structures, social supports via friends, family, and faculty as well as group meetings, and a positive college culture also supported students through their various transitions.

Recommendations for practice include supporting faculty professional development by implementing campus professional development aimed at helping to create a positive campus culture where faculty better understand the implications of being in recovery from substance abuse and are prepared to support students. Another recommendation for practice is to implement collegiate recovery programs to support students in recovery that offer many of the supports participants indicated as effective in their success.

Using a collaborative approach, community members, students, college administrators, and faculty along with federal, state, and local policymakers have the unique opportunity to come together, problem solve, and apply recent research that may increase student retention and success while supporting the individual needs of students who are in recovery from substance abuse.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.