Date of Completion

Spring 5-12-2013

Thesis Advisor(s)

Patricia Neafsey

Honors Major



Nursing | Substance Abuse and Addiction


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine self-medication practices of undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Connecticut in attempt to inform future educational efforts on drug misconceptions in order to encourage safe medication practices among incoming undergraduate students.

Background: Non-medical use of stimulants prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) treatment has gained attention due to non-medical prevalence rates in U.S. colleges. Current literature investigates circumstances, demographics and motives in sample populations that increase student misuse of these prescription medications.


Design: Multi-method research strategy investigating the perceived focus group coded data to the actual self-reported Adhere Tx Know My Meds ™ online survey. Analysis of the perceived versus actual data attempts to identify students awareness of stimulant use and the actual prevalence of stimulant use.

Participants: Undergraduate students (18+) enrolled at the University of Connecticut that voluntarily responded to participate in campus focus groups and/or to the online survey.


Focus Group: Of the discussed medications that were coded via a focus group communication content analysis the second most common mentioned product was the use of Adderall at 28 counts behind energy drinks at 41 counts. Students reported that they believed others used Adderall to help them: study, stay awake in general, stay awake to drink alcohol and/or suppress ones appetite.

Survey Data: Of the 1976 survey participants, 73 (3.7%) reported using a prescription stimulant to treat one or more of the conditions listed on the survey questionnaire. The following were self-reported conditions in which participants reported stimulant use: Enhance mental performance (83.6%), stay awake (37%), weight loss (1.4%), anxiety/depression (6.8%), pain relief (2.7%), mix with alcohol (8.2%) and/or drinking preparation (2.7%).

Conclusions & Implications: Perceived focus group rational use of ADHD medication was reflected in self-reported survey results. Reported stimulant use included enhancing mental performance, staying awake, weight loss and drinking preparation.

Implications: Results will be developed into educational awareness planning and interventions for incoming undergraduate students to encourage safe medication practice.