This study examines the risk factors predicting non-prescribed stimulant use (NPSU) among adolescents, with an emphasis on whether such factors are reflective of instrumental (e.g., studying) and/or recreational (e.g., partying) drug consumption settings. Using data from Monitoring the Future (2011), we employed a series of logistic regression models to establish predictors of 12-month self-reported Adderall or Ritalin use without a doctor’s note among eighth and tenth graders. Whereas studies of college students have found NPSU to correlate with instrumental motives and productivity-related demands, we find no association between NPSU and indicators of academic strain for this younger sample. Rather, we find that the age of onset and current use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are most predictive of NPSU, which are substances generally associated with social and recreational consumption settings. These findings have potential implications for practitioners concerned with mitigating the harms of general prescription drug misuse, as intervention efforts informed by research conducted among college students may not readily apply to younger populations. Drawing from central tenets of developmental and life course criminology, we call for continued inquiry into the broader socialization and developmental processes that influence NPSU and other prescription drug use patterns prior to early adulthood.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- adolescent drug use
- prescription stimulants