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Addict Behav. 2017 Feb;65:245-249. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.07.016. Epub 2016 Jul 19.

Do college students improve their grades by using prescription stimulants nonmedically?

Author information

1
Center on Young Adult Health and Development, University of Maryland School of Public Health, Department of Behavioral and Community Health, 2387 School of Public Health Building, College Park, MD 20742, USA. Electronic address: aarria@umd.edu.
2
Center on Young Adult Health and Development, University of Maryland School of Public Health, Department of Behavioral and Community Health, 2387 School of Public Health Building, College Park, MD 20742, USA. Electronic address: caldeira@umd.edu.
3
Center on Young Adult Health and Development, University of Maryland School of Public Health, Department of Behavioral and Community Health, 2387 School of Public Health Building, College Park, MD 20742, USA. Electronic address: kvincent@umd.edu.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, 3109 Biology-Psychology Building, College Park, MD 20742, USA. Electronic address: ogrady@umd.edu.
5
Counseling and Psychological Services, University at Albany, 400 Patroon Creek Blvd. Suite 104, Albany, NY 12206, USA. Electronic address: dcimini@albany.edu.
6
Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors, University of Washington, 1100 NE 45th St, Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98105, USA. Electronic address: geisner@uw.edu.
7
Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors, University of Washington, 1100 NE 45th St, Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98105, USA. Electronic address: njf2@uw.edu.
8
Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors, University of Washington, 1100 NE 45th St, Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98105, USA; Health and Wellness, Division of Student Life, University of Washington, 109 Elm Hall, Seattle, WA 98105, USA. Electronic address: jkilmer@uw.edu.
9
Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors, University of Washington, 1100 NE 45th St, Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98105, USA. Electronic address: larimer@uw.edu.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Many college students engage in nonmedical use of prescription stimulants (NPS) because they believe it provides academic benefits, but studies are lacking to support or refute this belief.

METHODS:

Using a longitudinal design, 898 undergraduates who did not have an ADHD diagnosis were studied. Year 3 GPA (from college records) of four groups was compared: Abstainers (did not engage in NPS either year; 68.8%); Initiators (NPS in Year 3 but not Year 2; 8.7%); Desisters (NPS in Year 2 but not Year 3; 5.8%); and Persisters (NPS in both years; 16.7%). Generalized estimating equations regression was used to estimate the association between NPS and change in GPA, controlling for sex and Year 2 GPA.

RESULTS:

GPA increased significantly within Abstainers (p<0.05), but did not change significantly within the other groups. Overall, the relationship between NPS pattern group and change in GPA was not statistically significant (p=0.081). NPS was generally infrequent, but Persisters used more frequently than Desisters (11.7 versus 3.4days in Year 2) and Initiators (13.6 versus 4.0days in Year 3, both ps<0.001), controlling for sex and Year 2 GPA.

CONCLUSIONS:

We cannot rule out the possibility that NPS prevented declines in GPA, but we can conclude that students who engaged in NPS showed no increases in their GPAs and gained no detectable advantages over their peers. The results suggest that prevention and intervention strategies should emphasize that the promise of academic benefits from NPS is likely illusory.

KEYWORDS:

Academic performance; College students; Drug abuse; Prescription drug abuse; Substance use

PMID:
27469455
PMCID:
PMC5140739
DOI:
10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.07.016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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