Aiming “High” in College: Potential Links between Existential Authenticity and Drug Consumption in/As Leisure Experience

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:40
Oral Presentation
Iulia FRATILA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Liza BERDYCHEVSKY, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
The life stage of young adulthood is characterized by the sense of invincibility and immortality, while the college environment offers a playground for risk taking and experimentation with self-identity. In this study, we are looking at the use of drugs in/as leisure experience for college students as a means for such exploration. Although drug consumption is socially construed as risky and deviant, its meanings, outcomes, and leisurely connotations might be more complex. Hence, the purpose of this phenomenological study is to clarify the essence of drug consumption in/as leisure experience and its potential links to existential authenticity and self-transformation, as perceived by U.S. college students. Using 15-20 in-depth individual interviews, we will implement transcendental phenomenology to identify the textures and structures of the drug consumption experience, proceeding through the stages of epoché, phenomenological reduction, imaginative variation, and synthesis. Based on existing literature, the phenomenological textures associated with the drug consumption may encompass the sense of liminoid, escape, detachment from reality, potential reappraisals, self-transformations, and sense of intrapersonal and interpersonal existential authenticity. Relevant phenomenological structures could include the kind of drug (e.g., stimulants, depressants, or hallucinogens) and the phases, the frequency and the context of drug consumption (e.g., companions, location, purpose, and leisurely characteristics of the experience). Researching recreational drug consumption in/as leisure experience for college students from this novel angle will benefit knowledge by shedding light on the under-researched phenomenon in leisure scholarship. This study can also provide relevant insights for drug prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation programs around U.S. college campuses based on the improved understanding of drug consumption in/as leisure experience. This study has the potential to enhance the effectiveness of the programs that currently undervalue the exploratory state of mind or existential state of being as possible motivators for and/or outcomes of the college students’ drug consumption.