Research has shown that sensation-seeking peaks during the late teen years, which raises the possibility that students might become better equipped to make appropriate risk appraisals as they mature into college years. Arria's paper supports that, based on the fact that for most students, perceived harmfulness may have had an influence on behavior, except among those with higher levels of "sensation-seeking."
Anecdotal evidence suggests that most college students think it is safe to use prescription drugs nonmedically. This study does not support the anecdotal evidence. It found that among students who had an opportunity to use, two out of three associated a high risk of harm with occasional nonmedical use of prescription pain killers and stimulants.
Previous studies have shown that compared to non-users, those who use prescription pain killers and stimulants for nonmedical purposes tend to be White, male, and have a mother who has a bachelor's degree or more. They also tend to have greater levels of other drug involvement, are more likely to be affiliated with Greek organizations and have decreased academic performance.
Arria's research was based on personal interviews, including questions on drug use and sensation-seeking, with 1,253 students. The students also completed a web survey six months after the original interview, and had a follow-up interview at 12 months. The research was conducted between 2004 and 2006 at a large university, with a student body that is typical of state-funded institutions with respect to race, gender and socio-economic status.
Federal government figures show that nationally more than 175,000 emergency room admissions were related to the nonmedical use of pain killers and stimulants in 2005. The numbers are not limited to students alone.
|Contact: Carol Vieira|
Society for Prevention Research