The Effect of Peer Groups on Adderall Adherence

During my first semester at STLCOP I took a sociology class. Something I truly valued about this class was the focus on medicine, which is fitting for a pharmacy school. As I am reflecting on this past semester, I found this paper I wrote for the class and still find the topic intriguing.

As a pharmacy student, it is important to understand the value of both enforcing and encouraging adherence. This essentially means, listen to your doctor and don’t abuse your medication. What sparked my interest in this topic on a more personal level were the documentaries I found while scrolling through Netflix over the past months. Many of them encourage the use of amphetamines, which I have no personal preference towards or against. What did strike me is the subtle encouragement of engaging in the use of these medications recreationally. Now, if you know me personally, you know that I am not one to judge at all. Everyone single person has their own story and reasoning behind what they do; however, it is still vital to recognize the issue of non-adherence.

In the following essay, I examine the influence of peer groups on the use of recreationally taking Adderall. Also, this essay was designed for students to practice setting up a sociological experiment. I did not conduct the research for this topic, it is simply a research proposal so to say.

I hope you find the topic as interesting as I do!


The Effect of Peer Groups on Adderall Adherence

Peer groups play an integrative role in our understanding of the society in which we live, as well as allow us to have our own unique perceptions of the surrounding world. However, to what extent do these peer groups persuade us to fall out of typical societal understandings? This broad question brings us to understand that peer groups play a greater role in society than they may be credited for. With that said, the term “peer groups” must be defined: peer groups are typically classified as people of the same age or status within a society, but to an individual, they are close friends, classmates, and coworkers. The latter is an important factor to consider because with that level of intimacy comes the development of trust. It is accepted that the relationships formed via peer groups are an essential aspect of living a healthy life. Yet with the increasing normalization of amphetamines, particularly Adderall, peer groups may be the greatest determinate on an individual’s willingness to adhere, or not adhere, by their prescriber’s directions. This leads to the question, how do peer groups affect Adderall adherence?

If an individual is within a peer group that normalizes the recreational use of Adderall, then the individual will be more willing to share his/her prescription and, thus, not comply with the prescriber’s instructions. In order to further analyze this hypothesis, the theory of structural functionalism will be applied. Structural functionalism considers that each part of a society is essential for the success of the whole, as well as how the lack of effort from one part of society can negatively impact the whole through a sort of ripple effect. To analyze this further, functionalism will be used to examine the functions of society with the use of two overarching categories: manifest functions and latent functions. Manifest functions are expected outcomes, which for the purpose of this research proposal would be the use of Adderall to control ADHD as prescribed by the healthcare professional. Alternatively, latent functions are unexpected outcomes, like the use of Adderall recreationally. These two generalized outcomes will be further examined and measured in regards to peer groups and their willingness to normalize the use of Adderall. Thus, peer groups that normalize the use of Adderall will be more willing to not comply with the prescriber’s instructions.

In this study the willingness and/or frequency of misusing Adderall will be measured across an array of peer groups, acting as the dependent variable. Measuring adherence will be operationalized through the use of surveys and interviews, which will be discussed in greater detail below. Peer groups, the independent variable of the study, will be studied based on their willingness to adhere to the manifest functions of Adderall as a prescription medication. Those groups that normalize the use of Adderall recreationally will be examined in order to understand the willingness and frequency of non-adherence.

The primary data collection method in this study will be surveys. Surveys have the advantage of allowing the participants to be anonymous, which is important considering the topic may reveal sensitive information. Surveys allow the collection of quantitative data, as well as offering an open question to gather qualitative responses. However, due to the lack of close contact with the participants through the use of surveys, interviews will be conducted as well. This will allow for the further collection of qualitative data and will allow the interviewer and participants to develop a level of trust and understanding. It is possible that the one-on-one interaction may cause the participants to answer untruthfully, but this will hopefully be reassured by the anonymous nature of the study. Through this triangulation of research, the data collected should allow a sufficient amount to analyze how peer groups truly impact adherence in regards to the use of Adderall.

The survey will primarily consist of questions using a Likert scale to gather information on the participants’ willingness and frequency of adhering/not-adhering to the prescriber’s instructions of an Adderall prescription. Survey questions may include:

  • Are you currently prescribed any dosage of Adderall? (Yes or No)
  • If yes, how frequently do you abide by the directions of your prescriber? (Never to Always)
  • If yes, how willing are you to share your prescription with your peers? (Not willing to very willing)
  • If no, how willing are you to use Adderall recreationally if offered to you by a peer? (Not willing to very willing)

In regards to the interview portion of the study, participants will be completely voluntary and must sign a waiver to agree to participation under the knowledge that their responses will be confidential. Similar questions will be asked in the interviews as asked in the surveys, but the participants will be asked to describe their answers in more detail. The participants will also be asked, in both the survey and the interview, to answer a series of questions regarding their gender, age, and social status in order for the researchers to analyze adherence with the knowledge of social categories.

The question of how peer groups affect Adderall adherence is essential to understanding the nature of our society today. Healthcare professionals, pharmacists in particular, would benefit from the data collected by this research in order to approach the consultation of Adderall prescriptions more holistically. Non-adherence of medications clearly affects the patient, but with a greater understanding of the culture surrounding non-adherence prescribers and pharmacists will be able to approach conversations with their patients with more knowledge of how their peers may affect their decision to adhere.


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