“I’ve Thought About This, Trust Me”: Understanding the Values and Assumptions Underlying Prescription Stimulant Misuse Among College Students

Rebecca de Souza


Grounded in a social constructionist perspective of biomedicine, this qualitative study explored the meanings and practices associated with prescription stimulant (PS) misuse among college students.  In-depth interviews uncovered four primary themes: using and manipulating PS for increased productivity, basic knowledge about PS and risks, learning about the effects of PS through experimentation, and locating resistance and addiction within the realm of individual control. The study provides one instance of how biomedical technologies are appropriated by lay people in the absence of medical supervision to achieve nonmedical goals. The study also reveals the declining authority of the medical provider and the increased role of biomedicine in everyday life. The discussion elaborates on the modernist assumptions of individualism and control embedded in the biomedical model of medicine that provide the ideological framework for this potentially dangerous pharmaceutical practice.


prescription stimulants, prescription drugs, biomedicine, modern medicine, culture

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