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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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In an attempt to maximize their academic performance, many American college students turn toward such prescription stimulant drugs as Adderall and Ritalin, which can increase users' attention span and ability to focus, but are not without risks, including such aversive side effects as anxiety, migraines, and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Prevalence rates for prescription stimulant abuse (PSA) by college students vary widely, with rates as high as 50.6% (McCabe, West, Teter, & Boyd, 2014). PSA among college students is most commonly endorsed for perceived academic benefits, but many students report engaging in recreational PSA, often to resist the depressant effects of alcohol and remain alert and sociable at parties. The current study was designed to examine the social factors influencing students' abuse of prescription stimulants, and to identify differences in these factors between academic and recreational users. A survey of 175 undergraduate students was used to investigate the influence of parental expectations, academic support, resistance to peer influence, alcohol and cannabis use, and fraternity/sorority membership on PSA and purpose of PSA (academic or recreational). Results of independent-samples t-tests and chi-square analyses indicated that users drank more alcohol, obtained lower resistance to peer influence scores, were more likely to be male, more likely to be in a fraternity or sorority, and more likely to have used cannabis in the past year than nonusers. Academic users also had higher scores on parental expectations and resistance to peer influence than recreational users. The results extend previous findings by highlighting differences between academic and recreational users of prescription stimulants. These findings may be useful in identifying populations of college students who are at-risk for different variations of prescription stimulant abuse.