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University students’ reasons for abstaining from drug use

College students who abstain from certain types of drug use have specific reasons for doing so. Having insights on students’ reasoning behind avoiding drug use can potentially aid university employees in improving efforts to prevent drug use.

A study conducted at a large Midwestern university aimed to do just that. Students were recruited to complete an online survey, and those who reported recreational drug use were excluded. The results indicated that “negative consequences” was the highest ranked reason that students chose to abstain from prescription opioids and stimulants, as well as “street” drugs such as heroin and cocaine. The least common reason for abstinence was difficulty acquiring drugs.

Many students also indicated that drug use was against their beliefs. This result was most commonly a response as a reason for avoiding heroin, with cocaine and the prescription drugs invoking less of a response.  Gender was another variable that impacted the importance of reasons to refrain from drug use, with female students ranking each measure as being more important than males.

Another interesting finding was that when comparing reasoning for avoiding prescription opioids and stimulants to cocaine and heroin, the reasons that students avoided drug use were ranked as having a greater influence on abstention from the street drugs.

Students are greatly influenced by negative consequences that are known to potentially result from drug use, and this information can help develop prevention efforts to keep students abstinent from drug use.

 Take Away: When asked to provide their reasoning from avoiding street and prescription drug use, college students reported that negative consequences had the greatest influence on the decision to avoid all categories of drugs.

Rosansky, J.A., Rosenberg, H. (2018). University students’ self-reported reasons for abstinence from prescription and non-prescription stimulants and depressants. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.11.005

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