The prevalence of prescription stimulant use in a sample of nursing students
Substance use and abuse has been studied for years and has been proven to be a problem among college students and there is a growing number of students who abuse prescription stimulants, despite increased campaigns to educate, raise awareness and prevent this health epidemic. The rate for prescription type drug abuse among nurses is more than twice that of the general population. Additionally, nurses have particular risk factors specific to the occupation. Despite these overwhelming statistics, prevalence studies for nursing students with legitimate prescriptions who use appropriately, or misuse their prescription are very scarce. A quantitative approach was used to examine use and misuse of prescription stimulant medications among nursing students who were members of a professional nursing organization within Alabama. Investigate predictive risk factors and motives for any illicit use were examined as well. Of the 1,111 members, a response rate of 9.2% was obtained (n = 102). Of the 102 respondents, 3 were ineligible, 11 declined participation of did not progress past the informed consent document. There were 88 participants with usable data. This study found 54.5% who reported no use at all. Legitimate use was found to be 14.8%. Illicit use was found to be 30.7% of participants. There was a statistically significance (p < 0.05) in grade point averages between the groups that is consistent with prior findings. However, this study did not yield significant findings for age, time in extracurricular activities, or PanHellenic membership. Motivations for illicit prescription stimulant abuse were similar to those in previous studies. These findings have importance in the field of nursing education and substance abuse prevention. By increasing our knowledge base, faculty can be better equipped to educate their nursing students on the dangers of self-medication, diverting medications and the harm that eventually comes from this illegal activity.