Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience

Department

Interdisciplinary Neuroscience

First Advisor

Lisa Weyandt

Abstract

Prescription stimulant misuse is a growing problem among college students. Students found to be at greatest risk for misusing prescription stimulants are those who are male, Caucasian, members of a fraternity or sorority, and who have a lower grade point average (GPA). The primary reason reported for stimulant misuse among college students is academic enhancement. Preliminary findings investigating executive functioning (EF) in college students has revealed that individuals with deficits in EF are more likely to have educational difficulties and take part in risky behavior, and that executive functions are substantially improved in students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and EF deficits when taking prescription stimulants. It is possible that students who have greater difficulty with planning, organization, self-motivation, and interference control (i.e., EF deficits) are misusing prescription stimulants to help them overcome these deficits to succeed academically. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between prescription stimulant misuse, EF, and academic outcomes among a sample of college students. Results revealed 18.8% of the sample reported misusing prescription stimulants. In addition, participants with clinically significant EF deficits reported significantly higher rates of misuse, compared to those without deficits in EF. Prescription stimulant misuse, however, did not moderate the relationship between EF and GPA. The present findings have implications for identifying sub-populations of college students who may be at risk for misusing prescription stimulants and to improve prevention and intervention strategies aimed at reducing misuse. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Available for download on Thursday, May 31, 2018

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