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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2011 Jul;72(4):586-91.

Risk of marijuana use in male and female college student athletes and nonathletes.

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Center of Alcohol Studies, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, 08854-8001, USA.



A large minority of collegiate athletes report past-year marijuana use even though there is a significant possibility of experiencing negative athlete-specific consequences related to performance, eligibility, and scholarship. The present study examined risk factors that can drive or curb marijuana use in college athletes and nonathletes.


Logistic regressions, performed separately for men and for women, assessed the relationship of past-year marijuana use to sensation seeking, negative mood, perceptions of peer marijuana use, motivations for marijuana use, and stress related to body image and academics in athletes (233 men, 156 women) and nonathletes (184 men, 313 women). Risk factors also were compared for male past-year marijuana users who reported using (n = 26) or not using (n = 61) the substance during their competitive season.


For athletes and nonathletes of both genders, being White, being past-year cigarette smokers, having higher sensation-seeking scores, and having exaggerated perceptions of student use norms were associated with past-year marijuana use. Enhancement motivations for use were higher among athletes compared with their same-gender nonathlete peers. In women, but not in men, greater body image stress and lower academic stress were associated with past-year marijuana use. Male athletes who continued using marijuana into their competitive season demonstrated a qualitatively different risk profile compared with athlete past-year users who reported no in-season use, including greater coping motivations for marijuana use.


This preliminary study suggests that although the overall risk profile of college athletes and nonathletes is similar, athletes appear to be particularly motivated to use marijuana because of its enhancement or pleasurable properties.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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