Non-medical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD) is a growing problem among college-aged individuals. Motivations for use of a substance have been shown to predict consumption behavior across a variety of substances, but research on motivations for engaging in NMUPD is limited. We hypothesize that Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) would support a two-factor latent structure for motivations (self-treatment and recreational) for NMUPD across three classes of drugs (stimulants, tranquilizers and sedatives, and pain relievers).
Data were collected from 1016 undergraduates attending a large southeastern university via an online survey. Motivations for use were subjected to a CFA for those participants who reported past-year use of each drug class (tranquilizer and sedative use n = 138, pain reliever use n = 189, and stimulant use n = 258).
Model fit varied across drug class. A two-factor model emerged for both pain relievers and stimulants, and each factor was positively correlated with one another and with frequency of use for both drug classes. A two-factor model was not a good fit for tranquilizers and sedatives.
Motives for NMUPD are a relatively understudied construct. Although our initial results suggest that a proposed framework consisting of self-treatment and recreational motives might have some utility in explaining the use of stimulants and pain relievers, more research is needed to characterize motives for tranquilizers and sedatives. Additional research is also needed to develop assessment measures that capture the full range of motives for all three classes of NMUPD.