The relationship between nonmedical use of prescription stimulants, executive functioning and academic outcomes

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Date of Original Version



The nonmedical use of prescription stimulants (NMUPS) is a prevalent issue among college students. The primary reason college students report NMUPS is for academic enhancement i.e., to perform better on schoolwork/tests and focus better in class. Executive functioning (EF), which includes abilities that allow for planning, cognitive flexibility, self-regulation, and goal-directed behavior, are potential mechanisms underlying academic performance. Preliminary research has revealed that college students with EF deficits are more likely to have educational difficulties and take part in risky behavior. Based on the literature, it is possible that students with EF deficits are engaging in NMUPS to help them overcome these deficits to succeed academically. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between NMUPS and EF among a sample of college students. The sample included 308 students from six public universities located in various regions of the United States. Measures used in this study were the SSQ, BDEFS and GPA. Results revealed 18.8% of the general sample reported NMUPS. Participants with clinically significant EF deficits reported significantly higher rates of NMUPS, compared to those without deficits in EF. NMUPS, however, did not moderate the relationship between EF and GPA. The present findings have implications for identifying sub-populations of college students who might be at risk for engaging in NMUPS and to improve prevention and intervention strategies aimed at reducing NMUPS. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Addictive Behaviors