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Drug Use Among College Students: A Research Note

NCJ Number
C W Eskridge
Date Published
26 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of a study of drug use and law-breaking among a sample of college students.
A self-report deviance survey was administered to students in 15 classes at three universities from 1985 to 1988. A total of 1,654 students completed the survey. Respondents were asked if they had ever committed any of 23 deviant acts. Included in the survey were questions about past criminal activities and drug use. Regarding drug use, students were asked if they had ever consumed beer or other alcoholic drinks as a minor; taken LSD, cocaine, or heroin; or used marijuana. Findings show that after removing the drug-related offenses as interrelated categories, more frequent general drug users were, at the .05 level, more likely than general nonusers of drugs to report they had committed 13 of the 18 deviant acts listed in the survey and were arithmetically more likely than general nonusers to report that they had committed the remaining five acts listed in the survey. Some rationalization of their drug-using behavior apparently occurs among more frequent general drug users; despite the fact that they engage in more deviant acts than general nonusers, more than 80 percent view themselves as law-abiding citizens. This is similar to the perceptions of nonusers. The survey found that the illegal use of alcohol, LSD, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana among college students apparently has been stable over the past 4 years. Longitudinal variation in responses should continue to be tracked. 28 references, 11 tables, and 1 figure