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The purpose of the present investigation was to explore the psychological factors associated with drug use in a group of college athletes and to compare athlete drug users to nonusers. A questionnaire was given to male (N=377) and female (N=167) Division I college athletes asking them about their use or nonuse of drugs. Frequency, intensity, and duration of use/nonuse of seven drug categories (alcohol, amphetamines, anabolic steroids, barbiturates, cocaine, hallucinogens, and marijuana) were used to divide subjects into categories of high user and low user/nonuser on each of the drugs. Dependent measures included the Profile of Mood States (POMS), the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Test, and questions assessing the stressors athletes experience in their dual role as student-athletes. A MANOVA was conducted to distinguish significant differences between high and low drug users on the dependent variables. Results indicated that alcohol, the most widely used drug, produced the most significant results. Specifically, discriminant analysis revealed high alcohol users (75th percentile) had significantly higher scores on the POMS anger, fatigue, and vigor subscales than did the low alcohol users (25th percentile). In addition, females in the alcohol low user/nonuser group felt more pressure from coaches to perform well than did females in the high user group; for males, the reverse was true. Future research recommendations include using larger subject pools and athletes of different ages and skill levels.
M. Evans is with the Department of Athletics, and R. Weinberg and A. Jackson are with the Department of Kinesiology, at the University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203.