Prescription Stimulants

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Group Dynamics, Social Influence, and Academic Pressure Contribute to the Use of Prescription Stimulants University of Wisconsin at Madison

Abstract

The use of prescription stimulants among University of Wisconsin-Madison college students is reflected by the influence of personal social groupings and networks, such as fraternities and sororities, as well as personal academic expectations. The research design was based on a quantitative survey data collection through an online survey hosted by “SurveyMonkey” along with paper copies distributed to a random sample of students that attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 184 students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison students took the time to fill out the survey by choice, 144 students took the online survey and 44 students took the hard copy survey. Research took place over a three week time period and anyone that was currently enrolled at the college could participate. Findings show that students with a GPA of 3.1-3.5, freshman, Engineering and Business majors, Greek life affiliation, and white males consumed the highest percentage of ADHD medication. Some major limitations that our study had were that the survey was based on 11 questions and the numbers of participants wasn’t a large enough sample size to generalize to the entire campus population. By gaining a more accurate sample, with equal number of participants from each of the majors, year in school, and ethnicity, a better conclusion could be made.

Introduction
College is a time of experimentation, ranging from social relationships to drugs and alcohol. College students use prescription stimulants to “get in the zone” or pull all night study sessions—a habit that most likely began in college (Teter et al, 2006). Although most college students use prescription drugs properly, about one in four people aged 18 to 20 reported using these medications at least once in their lives illegally (NSDUH, 2008). Research indicates America consumes the majority of the world’s supply of methylphenidate, a medical stimulant (Woodworth, 2000). Stimulants can be defined as a psychoactive drug that increases activity in the brain. Theses drugs can temporarily elevate alertness, mood, and awareness. There is a new and growing problem on college campuses in the United States. Many people think of college as a time to drink, fall down drunk, and get back up and start drinking more. However, is that really the problem on college campuses today? In an effort to understand this question research has focused on understanding the factors linked to students’ use and abuse of prescription stimulants to help them in their social and academic life. With prescription stimulant use among college students rising, group dynamics, social influence, and overt compression have become an important area for research among the medical field. In an effort to understand the increasing rates of stimulants we wanted to investigate the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to see if there were correlations between social influence, academic pressure, and group dynamics that linked to college student’s taking prescription stimulants. Previous research conducted argues that males, whites, fraternity/sorority members, students with lower grade point averages, and students from the Northeast region of the United State are correlated with higher rates of medical stimulant use. Research also suggests that peer pressure may play a role in the use of prescription stimulants among college students, especially among members of fraternities and sororities, which may be explained by social influence. Antecedent of increased usage of stimulants include factors in an individual’s backgrounds, such as parents’ levels of education and a college’s geographic location (McCabe, Knight, Teter, & Wechsler, 2005). This information and prior research has given us the reason to investigate this phenomenon. The use of prescription...
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