Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type



College of Social Work

Director of Thesis

Dr. Christina Andrews

Second Reader

Dr. Kara Montgomery


One hundred and six undergraduate students of the University of South Carolina were surveyed to understand misuse of prescription stimulants and how perceived academic pressure may play a role in this behavior. Overall, the survey revealed that 33.0% of participants reported illicit use of prescription stimulants in the last 30 days, and 52.8% reported illicitly using prescription stimulants at least once during their time in college. Data from the survey responses indicated that students perceiving academic pressure were more likely to have misused prescription stimulants at least once during their time in college, but only if these students also reported little perception of danger related to stimulant misuse. Bivariate analysis revealed other statistically significant associations between reported stimulant misuse and other factors including gender, perceived stimulant benefit, access to illicit stimulant providers, and marijuana use. Findings from this project suggest that students are underestimating the danger and risks associated with non-medically directed prescription stimulant use, a disposition that, when combined with academic pressure, may lead students to misuse prescription stimulants. Colleges, universities, and other educational institutions should make the effort to increase both awareness of this public health problem, as well as develop strategic intervention policies that may mitigate the prevalence of this behavior. Examples of such policies include incorporation of educative material regarding prescription stimulant misuse risks in existing mandatory substance abuse education courses and stricter policing of the sale or distribution of prescription stimulants.

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