Prescribing Some Criminological Theory: An Examination of the Illicit Use of Prescription Stimulants among College Students

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Abstract

Recent evidence indicates that the illicit use of prescription stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin is common across college campuses and in professions (e.g., trucking) where staying awake and focused is valued. Existing research has established use patterns and explored respondents' reasons for using these stimulants. Less is known, however, about whether or how well mainstream criminological theory explains this type of illegal activity. This article reports results from a survey (N = 484) of college students from a Midwestern university, examining whether measures of strain, self-control, and social learning predict the illicit use of prescription stimulants. Measures from social learning and social control theories were significant predictors of illicit use of prescription stimulants, whereas the measure of academic strain was not; the strongest predictor of illicit use of prescription stimulants was general deviance. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-164
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Volume60
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2015.

Keywords

  • college students
  • criminological theory
  • illicit use
  • prescription stimulants

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