BUFFALO, N.Y. – In its ongoing mission to raise community
awareness of the latest trends in substance use and abuse, the
University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions
(RIA) announced receipt of a new grant and release of an expert
summary on the subject of prescription drug abuse.
Kathleen A. Parks, PhD, a RIA senior research scientist, has won
a SUNY/RF Collaborative Research Fund Award to study and collect
specific information on the prevalence as well as motives and
consequences associated with non-medical prescription drug (NMPD)
use among SUNY students.
The grant is funded for two years and provides $50,000 annually
to gather preliminary data that can later be used in support of
applications for larger federally funded grants.
“NMPD use has been steadily increasing on college campuses
nationally over the past few decades. While we know the general
characteristics of the drugs being used, and some of the
characteristics of students who typically report using these drugs,
less is known about the reasons for their use and even less is
known about the consequences students experience,” said
Parks says that NMPD use is an urgent public health issue and
New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently enacted legislation
called the I-STOP Law in an effort to curb the epidemic of
prescription drug abuse.
In response to the significance of this problem, the RIA is also
releasing the sixth in its series of expert summaries, a fact sheet
titled “RIA Reaching Others: Prescription Drug Abuse.
This summary, intended to educate health consumers and health
providers, defines what prescription drug abuse is, what drugs are
most commonly abused, how prescription drug abuse is treated and
explains what the I-STOP Law is.
RIA Director Kenneth Leonard, PhD, says that prescription drug
abuse knows no age boundaries – it has been increasing among
adolescents, college students, adults and the elderly for the past
“The drugs are safe when prescribed by a physician and
taken as prescribed by the person for whom the medication was
intended. But when prescription drugs are abused, they are
dangerous, addictive and withdrawal can be deadly,” said
According to the expert summary, NMPD and prescription abuse are
characterized as the use of a medication without a
physician’s prescription; the use of a medication other than
how it was prescribed; or the use of a medication for the
experience or feeling that the drug causes.
The most commonly abused drugs, Leonard says, are opioids like
Vicodin and Oxycontin, central nervous system depressants such as
Valium and Xanax and stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin.
RIA recently hosted the two-day conference, “The Challenge
of Reducing College Student Substance Use,” which brought
together frontline staff from throughout the SUNY system who
grapple with the real problems of college student alcohol and
substance use. The purpose of the conference was to raise awareness
and share best practices for intervention.
Just as the conference convened experts from across the SUNY
system, Parks’ grant-funded study will be a collaboration
among researchers on SUNY campuses in Buffalo, Binghamton and
Albany. During the initial phase of the research, 100 students who
report use of NMPDs during their tenure at UB will be recruited to
participate in confidential focus group discussions.
The second phase of the research will involve distribution of a
web-based survey to students on the three SUNY campuses to assess
the prevalence of NMPD use, motives for and consequences of
“Learning more about both positive and negative perception
of NMPD use from individuals who use these drugs will be an
important component for developing programs to reduce NMPD use on
college campuses,” said Parks.
“This is ultimately the goal of this line of research.
To access “RIA Reaching Others: Prescription Drug
Abuse” expert summary go to: http://www.ria.buffalo.edu/ExpertSummaries/ES6.html.
To access previous summaries, go to: http://www.ria.buffalo.edu/summaries/exprtsumms.html.