Illicit Methylphenidate Use in an Undergraduate Student Sample: Prevalence and Risk Factors

Christian J. Teter, Pharm.D., Sean Esteban McCabe, Ph.D., Carol J. Boyd, Ph.D., Sally K. Guthrie, Pharm.D.

Disclosures

Pharmacotherapy. 2003;23(5) 

In This Article

Results

The response rate was 64% (70% for women, 58% for men), which was better than average when compared with national college-based studies of alcohol and other drugs.[4] The total sample consisted of 2250 undergraduate students with a mean ± SD age of 20.07 ± 1.70 years. Table 1 shows respondents' demographics and alcohol or drug use behaviors. Prevalence rates for various illicit substances in the past year within our sample were consistent with the findings of a comparable national sample from the Monitoring the Future study.[2] Of the 57 students who reported illicit methylphenidate use in the past year, 2% began taking methylphenidate in junior high, whereas 19% started in high school, and 79% began in college. None of the students who reported lifetime or past-year illicit methylphenidate use injected the drug, and no information was available on intranasal administration.

Illicit methylphenidate users were significantly more likely to have used various other substances in the past year and the past month than either prescription stimulant users or nonstimulant users. In particular, 100% and 58% of the past-year illicit methylphenidate users had used marijuana and Ecstasy (MDMA [3,4-methylene-dioxymethamphetamine]), respectively, in the past year. Moreover, 98% of illicit methylphenidate users reported a binge drinking episode in the past 2 weeks.

Illicit methylphenidate users reported consuming significantly more mean drinks/occasion in the past month than either prescription stimulant users or nonstimulant users. Furthermore, illicit methylphenidate users reported having taken 3 times the number of illicit drugs, other than methylphenidate, in the past year as were used by prescription stimulant users, and 8 times the number of illicit drugs used by nonstimulant users in the past year ( Table 2 ). Illicit methylphenidate users also reported significantly higher mean levels of negative primary and secondary alcohol- or drug-related consequences in the past year than prescription stimulant users or nonstimulant users. In fact, while illicit methylphenidate users reported significantly higher rates of every individual primary and secondary consequence relative to prescription stimulant users and nonstimulant users, there were no statistically significant differences between prescription stimulant users and nonstimulant users, with the exception of one primary consequence: prescription stimulant users were more likely to report missing a class due to drinking (44%) than nonstimulant users (25%).

Our 2 analysis revealed that weekly party behavior, having multiple sexual partners, fraternity or sorority affiliation, and family income were all significantly associated with both lifetime and past-year illicit methylphenidate use (p<0.001 for all associations, results not shown). Most notably, the prevalence of illicit methylphenidate use in the past year was 14% among students who reported 10 or more hours of weekly party behavior.

As shown in Table 3 , multivariate logistic regression revealed that after controlling for the identified student characteristics, students who reported lifetime or past-year illicit methylphenidate use were significantly more likely than other students to engage in party behavior of more than 5 hours/week. In addition, after we controlled for the other variables, the data showed no significant associations between sex, race, social fraternity or sorority affiliation, or living arrangement with past-year or lifetime illicit methylphenidate use.

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