Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

John K. Cochran, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Christopher J. Sullivan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shayne Jones, Ph.D.


Prescription drugs, Substance use, Learning theory, Social bonding, Rare events


Prescription ADHD medication has been shown to be on the rise as a drug of abuse among young people. Unlike other drugs that serve only the purpose of achieving a high, this particular substance can also be perceived as useful and beneficial by those who abuse it. It is these positive attributes given to the illicit use of these drugs that make them so dangerous, especially in the hands of youths. To date extant research has made little effort to contextualize this type of drug use within theories of deviance. This study looks to fill that void as well as bridge the gap between current epidemiological studies on this topic and future etiological studies looking to assess causation within a theoretical context. Examining a national sample of 12th grade students (N=2,384), this study looks at what risk factors and predictors exist for the illicit use of ADHD medication. By testing aspects of social bonding and social learning theories, the goal is to assess which theory can best predict this type of drug use. Due to the low proportion of users, a rare events logistic regression is utilized in the analysis. While social learning items were able to account for the greatest level of variance in use, many of the findings contradict the theory, and therefore no theoretically based conclusions can be made at this time. Overall, more research needed on this topic using better fitting data tailored for theoretical interpretation. Considerations for future studies are also discussed.