Willingness to intervene to protect the group from consequences of substance use

Bridget M. Nelson, Brian E. McCabe, Ashley L. Falcon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: We tested relationships between three substances–alcohol, marijuana, and club drugs (hallucinogens, LSD, and MDMA)–and willingness to intervene as bystanders in potentially high-risk situations. Self-reported substance use was assessed during a typical week and during a week with multiple electronic music events. Method: Two hundred undergraduate students were asked about substance use during specific days with a calendar method to promote recall. Willingness to intervene within peer group was measured with a 5-item scale. Results: Willingness to intervene was relatively high (M= 4.27, SD = 0.74, range 1–5). Multiple linear regression showed heavy drinkers or club drug users had lower group willingness to intervene than non-users of either substance (β = −.16, −.21, respectively). Gender and event attendance were not related to willingness to intervene and did not moderate links with heavy drinking or club drug use. Conclusions: Although overall undergraduates reported being willing to intervene to protect group members, heavy drinkers or club drug users had lower willingness to intervene. Future research should assess actual behavior. Programs addressing high-risk situations and bystander interventions might benefit from adding strategies that focus on heavy drinkers or club drug users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Substance Use
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Bystander
  • college
  • group
  • substance use
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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