Evaluation of nonmedical use of prescription stimulants by college students at three northeastern pharmacy schools

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Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of self-reported nonmedical prescription stimulant use among college students of three northeastern pharmacy schools in the United States by examining the relationship of nonmedical use with underlying factors, academic performance, consequences associated with drug abuse, and quality of life (QOL). Methods: This study was approved by the respective institutional review boards of the pharmacy schools involved. Data were collected from consenting students in their first, second, and third professional years using an anonymous survey between April and September 2017. The survey assessed underlying factors, self-reported grade point average (GPA), and patterns of nonmedical use. Patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures included were the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST-10) to assess consequences associated with drug abuse and the Short Form (SF-12) to measure QOL. Results: In total, 651 responses of 1201 students surveyed were collected. In the included sample, 11.6% of students reported nonmedical use of prescription stimulants during college, with varying reported frequencies from 36% using once or twice to 8% using regularly. Factors associated with increased odds of nonmedical use with statistical significance included male gender (odds ratio [OR] 2.75, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.68-4.52, P = 0.001) and fraternity or sorority involvement (OR 2.84, 95% CI: 1.72-4.70, P = 0.001). Nonmedical users had statistically lower GPAs (3.38, 95% CI: 3.44-3.50) than nonusers (3.47, 95% CI: 3.30-3.45, P = 0.02), and increased risks associated with drug abuse, as measured by the DAST-10. No significant differences in QOL were found between nonmedical users and nonusers, as measured by the SF-12. Conclusion: The findings examined the impact of nonmedical prescription stimulant use by pharmacy students and found that nonmedical use was similar to rates observed by college students in other studies. Nonmedical use is associated with lower GPA and increased risks associated with drug abuse. More research must be conducted to understand and increase awareness of the effects of prescription stimulants.

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JACCP Journal of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy