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Social Anxiety and Non-Medical Prescription Stimulant Use among College Students

Description: Current evidence suggests that non-medical prescription stimulant (NMPS) use is on the rise, particularly among college students. Identifying individuals at risk for regular and problematic use is a critical step towards the development of effective intervention efforts. A growing body of work has noted that individuals with elevated levels of social anxiety (SA) or social anxiety disorder are at an enhanced risk for developing substance use problems, including NMPS use disorder. Despite the relevance of SA and NMPS use among college students, no studies have attempted to examine subclinical SA or the relation between SA and NMPS use among college students specifically. Thus, the present study sought to extend this area by testing the relation of SA symptoms and NMPS use frequency among college students. A large online study of college students was conducted (N=1604) to identify 252 NMPS users (18-25 years; 68.3% female). A hierarchical linear regression was used to test the moderation of positive prescription stimulant expectancies on SA symptoms in predicting past year NMPS use frequency. A subsample of 15 participants was also brought into the lab to assess subjective (State Anxiety) and physiological (salivary cortisol) responding to a social stressor task. Overall, the current study did not provide evidence that SA, via retrospective self-report or real-time responding was related to past year NMPS use frequency. Additional research is needed to resolve the discrepancies between the present findings and prior work.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Cloutier, Renee
Partner: UNT Libraries