The diagnoses of attention problems and the use of medications to treat them have drastically increased in America. Moreover, sociological research suggests that illicit psychostimulant use is also very prevalent on college campuses. My study surveys college undergraduates in order to better understand this phenomenon. This study was designed to examine: (1) illicit use of psychostimulants and perceptions of stimulant use by both users and non-users; (2) how recreational and non-medical users rationalize the use of these drugs in comparison to medical users; and (3) individual’s motivations for stimulant use (e.g., enhancement of academic performance, improvement of athletic performance, or expansion of social life). Quantitative methods were utilized to analyze the use of psychostimulants at a small liberal arts college in the Midwest. Surveys were distributed randomly and anonymously to 400 students through campus-mail. The results are based on the 208 responses collected. (A response rate of 52.0 percent.) The data are interpreted using three distinct sociological frameworks: functionalism, post-structuralism, and symbolic interactionism.


Nurse, Anne


Sociology and Anthropology


Pharmacology | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Social Statistics | Sociology


Psychostimulant Use, Study Drugs, Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDS), Rationalizations

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 Jonathan D. Rothman