Middle-Class Motives for Non-Medical Prescription Stimulant Use among College Students

Academic Article


  • Among policymakers and media in the United States, there is growing concern over increasing rates of illicit prescription drug use among college students. Using semi-structured interviews with 22 college students who misused prescription stimulants, we find that they draw on conventional middle-class beliefs (e.g., success and moderation) to make sense of their drug use. They do this by creating identities as people who are focused on success and use stimulants only as a tool to perform their best. They use excuses and justifications rooted in middle-class values to create symbolic boundaries between themselves (as legitimate users) and others (as hedonistic users). This allows them to persist with their illegal behaviors while maintaining an identity as conventional citizens.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kerley KR; Copes H; Griffin OH
  • Start Page

  • 589
  • End Page

  • 603
  • Volume

  • 36
  • Issue

  • 7