To examine the prevalence and correlates of college student use of illicit substances including cocaine, designer drugs, and nonmedical use of prescription stimulants and opioids, and to identify how different drug-related perceptions are related to past year use of these substances.
Data were analyzed from a cross-sectional anonymous web-based survey among a sample (n = 1345, 81% female) of students attending a mid-sized liberal arts college in the US. Logistic regression models were estimated to assess the relationships between substance-specific descriptive norms, injunctive norms, perceived availability, risk perceptions and past year use of cocaine, designer drugs, prescription stimulants, and opioids, adjusting for current marijuana use, alcohol dependence, sensation seeking, and sociodemographic factors.
Past year use of illicit substances ranged from 6% for nonmedical prescription opioids to 21% for nonmedical prescription stimulants. The sociodemographic correlates past year substance use differed by substance type. Descriptive norms (perceptions of peer use) and perceived risk were not consistently related to use of these substances. Current marijuana use was the strongest correlate across substances, and both injunctive norms (perceptions of peer approval) and perceived availability were consistently related to use of each substance.
Findings suggest that future college student drug prevention efforts should more directly target current marijuana users since they are most at risk of using other illicit substances. Additionally, findings indicate that injunctive norms may be an important consideration for education-focused drug prevention programs. However, findings should be interpreted in light of limitations of the sample, which is predominantly female.

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