Non-medical drug use among intercollegiate athletes at five American universities

Sections

Introduction
Interpretation of the data
Steroid use
Concluding remarks

Details

Author: Jack V. TOOHEY
Pages: 61 to 64
Creation Date: 1978/01/01

Non-medical drug use among intercollegiate athletes at five American universities

Ed.D. Jack V. TOOHEY Professor, Health Science, Arizona State University

Introduction

This study represents a descriptive analysis of non-medical drug use behaviour among intercollegiate athletes enrolled in selected health science classes at five American universities. A questionnaire was administered in 1970-71 [ 1] , and 1973-74 [ 2] , and 1976-77, to approximately 1 per cent of the student population of 79,000 students enrolled at these five universities.

The questionnaire was designed to measure patterns of past and present drug use behaviour in relationship to age, sex, college, social values, and grade point average. One item on the questionnaire permitted the researcher to discriminate between the intercollegiate athlete and the non-athlete in the total population of subjects surveyed.

The five universities participating in this study were: Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona; Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania; Northern Colorado University, Greely, Colorado; State University of New York at Geneseo, Geneseo, New York; University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.

For this study the Personal Health class was selected, which at all five universities is a general studies class in which a broad spectrum of students from all the individual colleges of the university enrolls. However, since the individual subjects were not randomly sampled, chi-square, a non-parametric statistical test, was used to treat the data.

The mean age of the student athlete was 19.4 years. The athletic population consisted of 89 per cent male and 11 per cent female students. All student athletes were undergraduate students with a mean of 14.5 years of formal education. The mean grade-point average was 2.2 on a 4-point grading scale (A= to a 4.0 average; B= to a 3.0 average and C= to a 2.0 average).

Of the hundred and twenty-four (124) respondents at Arizona State University in the 1976-77 survey, twenty-five (25) indicated they were intercollegiate athletes. The data for comparison of athlete and non-athlete and the chi-square evaluation of that data are presented in table 1.

Interpretation of the data

The chi-square analysis of the 1976-77 data in table 1 indicates that there is no significant difference in drug use behaviour patterns between the athlete and non-athlete with respect to marijuana, alcohol, barbiturates, LSD and cocaine.

The chi-square analysis of the data with respect to amphetamine (pep pill) use indicates that the athlete population is more likely to use amphetamine than the non-athlete population. There is a significant difference beyond the 0.05 level of confidence.

TABLE 1

A comparison of drug use behaviour between athlete and non-athlete populations at Arizona State University (1976-77)

 

Athlete

Non-athlete

Athlete

Non-athlete

Athlete

Non-athlete

 
Marijiuana
Alcohol
Amphetamines
Use
e 18.54
e 73.46
e 21.98
e 87.02
e 7.86
e 31.14
 
o 21
o 71
o 22
o 87
o 12
o 27
Non-use
e 6.46
e 25.54
e3.02
e 11.98
e 17.14
e 67.86
 
o 4
o 28
o 3
o 12
o 13
o 72
 
X 2 = 1.59
 
X 2 = 0.0
 
X 2 = 3.97
 
 
d.f. = 1, p>0.05
 
d.f. = 1, p>0.05
 
d.f. = 1, p<0.05
 
 
Barbiturates
LSD
Cocaine
Use
e 3.83
e 15.17
e 3.42
e 13.58
e 4.4
e 17.56
 
o 4.4
o 15
o 3
o 14
o 6
o 16
Non-use
e 21.17
e 83.83
e 21.58
e 85.42
e 20.56
e 81.44
 
o 21
o 84
o 22
o 85
o 19
o 83
 
X 2 = 0.0
 
X 2 = 0.07
 
X 2 = 0.84
 
 
d.f. = 1, p>0.05
 
d.f. = 1, p>0.05
 
d.f. = 1, p>0.05
 

The 1976-77 data reflect the findings of the 1973-74 study [ 3] . Within the student population of 792 studied at all five universities in 1973-74, there were 127 intercollegiate athletes. Marijuana use behaviour for the non-athletic population was 68 per cent; for the intercollegiate population the marijuana use factor was 72.5 per cent. A chi-square analysis of the data did not show a difference significant at the 0.05 level of confidence.

Interpretation of the data for the other four universities in the 1976-77 study revealed no significant difference between the athlete and non-athlete populations with respect to marijuana, alcohol and most other mood modifying drugs. (See table 2.)

Where differences did occur it was with respect to amphetamine and barbiturate use. Athletes at Arizona State University were more likely to use amphetamines than non-athletes. (See table 1.) At the other four universities barbiturates were used more by non-athletes than the athletes. (See table 2.)

TABLE 2

A comparison of drug use behaviour between athlete and non-athlete populations at four American universities (1976-77)

 

Athlete

Non-athlete

Athlete

Non-athlete

Athlete

Non-athlete

 
Marijuana
LSD
Aeroplane glue
Use
e 25.74
e 299.26
e 34.75
e 55.25
e 0.71
e 8.29
 
o 27
o 298
o 2
o 58
o 2
o 7
Non-use
e 14.26
e 165.74
e 35.25
e 409.75
e 39.29
e 456.71
 
o 13
o 167
o 38
o 407
o 38
o 458
 
X 2 = 0.19
 
X 2 = 1.64
 
X 2 = 2.58
 
 
p = >0.05
 
p = >0.05
 
p = >0.05
 
 
Cocaine
Amphetamines
Barbiturates
Use
e 4.83
e 56.17
e 9.43
e 109.57
e 6.5
e 75.5
 
o 4
o 57
o 7
o 112
o 2
o 80
Non-use
e 35.17
e 408.83
e 30.57
e 355.43
e 33.5
e 389.5
 
o 36
o 408
o 33
o 353
o 38
o 385
 
X 2 = 0.17
 
X 2 = 0.89
 
X 2 = 4.04
 
 
p = >0.05
 
p = >0.05
 
p = <0.05
 

Combined totals for: University of Tennessee, Pennsylvania State University, Northern Colorado University and State University of New York at Geneseo.

Steroid use

The drugs particular to athletes were anabolic steroids. In this six-year study, and a five-year study conducted among interscholastic athletes at ten high schools [ 4] , steroids were drugs taken exclusively by athletes; that is to say we never found a student taking steroids that wasn't either an interscholastic athlete or an intercollegiate athlete.

In the 1970-71 study we found that of 361 high school athletes nine had used steroids [ 5] . In the university study of 1970-71, 4 of 26 athletes or 15 per cent of the intercollegiate athlete population at Arizona State University had used steroids. In the 1973-74 study steroid use among athletes at the University of Tennessee and Northern Colorado University peaked to 18 per cent and remained at 15 per cent at Arizona State University. The 1976-77 study indicated that 20 per cent of the 25 intercollegiate athletes at Arizona State University had used steroids, while less than 1 per cent of Pennsylvania State athletes and University of Tennessee athletes had used steroids.

Concluding remarks

The null hypothesis tested in this study was: there is no significant difference between athletes and non-athletes in their non-medical usage of selected drugs. In only two cases was the null hypothesis rejected: (i) athletes at Arizona State are more likely to use amphetamines than non-athletes, and (ii) non-athletes at the four other universities in this study are more likely to use barbiturates.

The data in this six-year study seem to indicate that athletes do not represent a special sub-population within our society with respect to drug use behaviour, and the athlete is as much a part of the culturalization that has taken place with respect to drug use as any other individual in the university population of which the athlete is a member. It may also be concluded that in addition to using mood modifying drugs, the athlete has sought out specific drugs such as amphetamines and anabolic steroids to be used as ergogenic aids to hopefully enhance and improve athletic performance.

Robert Veatch would identify the use of drugs by athletes as an implementation of "The Therapeutic Drug Ethic" [ 6] or better athletic performance through modern chemistry.

References

001

J.V. Toohey, "An Analysis of Drug Use Behavior at Five American Universities." The Journal of School Health , vol. XLI, No. 9, November 1971, pp. 464-468.

002

B.W. Corder, T.L. Dezelsky, J.V. Toohey and P.K. Tow, "An Analysis of Trends In Drug Use Behavior at Five American Universities", The Journal of School Health , vol. XLIV, No. 7, September 1974, pp. 386-389.

003

Ibid.

004

J.V. Toohey, "Trends In Drug Use Behavior at Ten Arizona High Schools", Arizona Journal o/ Health, Physical Education and Recreation , Fall, 1975, pp. 6-8.

005

J.V. Toohey and B.A. Cox, "Steroids and the Athlete", Arizona Journal o/ Health, Physical Education and Recreation , vol. 14, No. 2, Spring 1971, pp. 15-17.

006

R. Veatch, "Value Foundation for Drug Use", Journal of Drag Issues , vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 253-262, Summer 1977.