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Review of prescription stimulant misuse by college students aims to improve prevention efforts

In an effort to improve prevention strategies surrounding prescription stimulant misuse by college students, a recent review applied the Theory of Triadic Influence (TTI) to elucidate multiple factors that fuel this problem.  First, the authors identified statistically significant correlates associated with increased prescription stimulant misuse among studies published between 2000-2013 (n=62 studies). Second, the authors then organized these correlates into the appropriate stream of influence (1. Cultural/Attitudinal; 2. Social/Normative; or, 3. Intrapersonal) and level of causation (1. Ultimate Causes; 2. Distal Causes; 3. Proximal Predictors) within the TTI.  Regarding the “intrapersonal” stream of influence, the most common correlates included a diagnosis of ADHD and a lower GPA. For the “social/normative” stream of influence, participation in Greek life and misperceptions related to social norms were both strong correlates associated with increased prescription stimulant misuse. Lastly, regarding the “cultural/attitudinal” stream, findings revealed that anticipation of negative consequences actually discouraged engaging in prescription stimulant misuse. Take Away:  This review strived to identify key causes and factors that fuel prescription stimulant misuse by college students through applying the Theory of Triadic Influence. Based on their findings, the authors suggested the following implications for prevention efforts: train healthcare providers to recognize signs and symptoms of prescription stimulant misuse; equip students diagnosed with ADHD with refusal skills and discuss proper medication management with these students; ensure prescription stimulant prevention messages target students involved in Greek life and correct misperceptions related to social norms; and lastly, create partnerships with law enforcement to raise awareness of the legal consequences from misusing prescription drugs.

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