Senior Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology



Faculty Advisor(s)

Tanya Tompkins (Thesis Advisor)
Jennifer Linder & Thomas Love (Committee Members)


With college students' rates of illicit prescription drug use higher than any other groups, it is imperative that factors associated with use be explored. The current study aims to expand and integrate a currently disjointed literature that is predominately focused on individual characteristics. Social development model and social control theory are discussed throughout as theoretical support. A national sample of 454 college students took an anonymous web-based survey assessing intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors were perceptions of harm, gender, stress and depressive symptoms. Extrinsic factors were type of institution, living situation, sense of school community and peer norms. Those attending private institutions or living on-campus used illicit prescription drugs significantly less and those living on-campus also had higher perceptions of harm. Multiple regression analyses and Sobel tests showed perceived peer norms fully mediated the relationship between type of institution and use, living situation and use, and living situation and perceptions of harm. Implications for these and other findings for prevention and future research in the area of illicit prescription drug use in college populations are discussed.