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Addict Behav. 2013 Mar;38(3):1643-50. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2012.10.002. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

Dispelling the myth of "smart drugs": cannabis and alcohol use problems predict nonmedical use of prescription stimulants for studying.

Author information

1
Center on Young Adult Health and Development, University of Maryland School of Public Health, Department of Family Science, 1142 School of Public Health Building, College Park, MD 20742, USA. aarria@umd.edu

Abstract

This study tested the hypothesis that college students' substance use problems would predict increases in skipping classes and declining academic performance, and that nonmedical use of prescription stimulants (NPS) for studying would occur in association with this decline. A cohort of 984 students in the College Life Study at a large public university in the US participated in a longitudinal prospective study. Interviewers assessed NPS; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) cannabis and alcohol use disorders; and frequency of skipping class. Semester grade point average (GPA) was obtained from the university. Control variables were race, sex, family income, high school GPA, and self-reported attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosis. Longitudinal growth curve modeling of four annual data waves estimated the associations among the rates of change of cannabis use disorder, percentage of classes skipped, and semester GPA. The associations between these trajectories and NPS for studying were then evaluated. A second structural model substituted alcohol use disorder for cannabis use disorder. More than one-third (38%) reported NPS for studying at least once by Year 4. Increases in skipping class were associated with both alcohol and cannabis use disorder, which were associated with declining GPA. The hypothesized relationships between these trajectories and NPS for studying were confirmed. These longitudinal findings suggest that escalation of substance use problems during college is related to increases in skipping class and to declining academic performance. NPS for studying is associated with academic difficulties. Although additional research is needed to investigate causal pathways, these results suggest that nonmedical users of prescription stimulants could benefit from a comprehensive drug and alcohol assessment to possibly mitigate future academic declines.

PMID:
23254212
PMCID:
PMC3558594
DOI:
10.1016/j.addbeh.2012.10.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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