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College freshmen: pain killers and stimulants less risky than cocaine; more risky than marijuana
Date:9/2/2008

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 3, 2008 First year college students believe that occasional nonmedical use of prescription pain killers and stimulants is less risky than cocaine, but more risky than marijuana or consuming five or more alcoholic beverages every weekend, according to a new study published in the September issue of Prevention Science, the peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Prevention Research.

This is the first study to describe college students' perceptions about the potential harmfulness of nonmedical use of prescription pain killers and stimulants. Previous studies with high school students show that beliefs about harmfulness of illicit drugs are related to drug use. Nonmedical use of pain killers and stimulants can be addictive and can cause serious problems requiring emergency room treatment.

The study by Amelia Arria, Ph.D., of the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, also found that college students who can be described as "sensation-seekers" are more likely to use prescription drugs nonmedically; irrespective of how harmful they may perceive the drugs to be. Arria said "sensation-seekers are students who like novel experiences, who want to try something new and a little dangerous, like jumping off the highest diving board or placing themselves in high-risk situations. They are much more likely to use pain killers nonmedically even if they perceive the drugs to be quite harmful."

Arria's study, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, also found that students who perceive these drugs as relatively harmless are ten times more likely to use them than those who think that the drugs are extremely harmful.

"This study suggests that educating students about the potential harm that can be caused by nonmedical use of prescription drugs is important in reducing use of these drugs by college students. It also shows that getting the message to students who are sensation-se
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Contact: Carol Vieira
CVieira@burnesscommunications.com
401-714-0821
Society for Prevention Research
Source:Eurekalert

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