Misperceptions of Peer Pill-Popping: The Prevalence, Correlates, and Effects of Inaccurate Assumptions about Peer Pharmaceutical Misuse

Amber Sanders, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
John Stogner, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
John Seibert, Marshall University
Bryan Miller, Georgia Southern University


Peer behaviors may significantly influence personal behavior yet individuals may not accurately estimate their peers’ actions. Overestimations of peer substance use may encourage initiation or exacerbate extant problems. The present study examines misperceptions of peer pharmaceutical misuse and explores the relationship between reported misuse and perceptions of misuse for four categories of prescription drugs. Data collected from 2,349 college students in the Southeastern United States were analyzed and results indicated that overall perceptions of misuse were significantly higher than actual misuse. These findings suggest that intervention efforts may benefit from addressing misperceptions of pharmaceutical misuse. Study limitations and implications are addressed.