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Psychosocial Functioning Among College Students Who Misuse Stimulants versus Other Drugs

Prescription stimulant misuse by college students has been on the rise in the last years. Previous research and theories hypothesize that forms of substance use and problem behaviors come from personal and environmental risk factors. The current study specifically focuses on demographics and how they correlate to stimulant misuse and substance use overall. They also look at relationships between indicators of psychopathology and risky social contexts with prescription stimulant misuse.

College students (18-23 years) were recruited for this study. The data was taken from two other studies to create a final sample of 1,534 students. Both studies contained self-reported data collection over a two week time period. One study included individual study visits while the other included the participant and self-identified best friend. The sessions asked participants about demographics, substance use, academic performance, depressive symptoms, and substance use consequences. Results showed that males had a 2.17-fold increase in odds of stimulant misuse. Stimulant misuses had more consequences than non-users, but lower rates of those using prescription stimulants and hard drugs.   

Results also showed that stimulant misusers were more likely to be members of Greek life along with using tobacco, marijuana, and binge drink. The researchers found no differences in the groups for depressive symptoms or GPA. Finally, students who used stimulants were more likely to show high levels of impulsivity. Overall, differences in all negative outcomes were made worse by those misusing stimulants and other hard drugs. These findings are important when creating specific prevention and intervention services to those students most at risk for stimulant use. It is also important to know how negative outcomes in stimulant users may differ from those who use other substances.

Take Away: The current study looks at how different demographics correlate to stimulant use as well as the relationships between indicators of psychopathology and risky social contexts with prescription stimulant misuse. 1534 college students (18-23 years) participated in the study and questions were asked about demographics, substance use, academic performance, depressive symptoms, and substance use consequences. Results showed that males had the highest risk of stimulant use and stimulant misuse lead to more negative consequences. Results also showed that stimulant misusers were more likely to be members of Greek life along with using tobacco, marijuana, and binge drink. Overall, differences in all negative outcomes were made worse by those misusing stimulants and other hard drugs. These findings are important when creating specific prevention and intervention services to those students most at risk for stimulant use.

Tags: College, Stimulant, Mental Health

Cole, V. T., & Hussong, A. M. (2020). Psychosocial functioning among college students who misuse stimulants versus other drugs. Addictive Behaviors, 105, 106290. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106290

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