The Making of an Addiction: Examining Psychological Determinants of Prescription Stimulant Abuse among College Students.
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Diagnoses of attention-deficit-disorders and stimulant prescriptions to treat these disorders (e.g., Adderall) are on the rise. The non-medical use of such stimulants (NUPS) as 'study drugs' has increased among college students, which aggravates the worsening prescription drug crisis in the U.S. This research examined the underlying psychological determinants of NUPS in order to inform effective health communication intervention efforts. It also tested potential individual-level characteristics that could influence such determinants in order to determine at-risk groups. This research utilized the reasoned action framework in a mixed-methods, two-study approach. Study 1 explored the underlying beliefs associated with intentions to engage in NUPS in an open-ended belief elicitation survey (N =121), study 2 (N =312) tested the psychological determinants of intentions and influencing individual-level characteristics in a quantitative survey. Results revealed (1) the top three unique attitudinal, normative, and control beliefs about NUPS; (2) instrumental attitude as strongest determinant of NUPS; (3) expectations of improved productivity, approval from friends and peers, access and financial means, peer pressure, and health risks as effective targets for effective health communication interventions; and (4) poor mental health, high levels of stress, and characteristics of perfectionism and sensation-seeking as aggravating risk factors among college students. Further implications and directions are discussed.