Studies in the past have shown that athletes generally smoke marijuana less often than other college students do.
“But there is still a pretty large number who choose to use it,” said Jennifer F. Buckman, Ph.D., of the Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Buckman and her colleagues surveyed 392 college athletes and 504 non-athlete students about marijuana use. One-third of athletes, among men, said they’d used the drug in the past year, versus half of non-athletes; the same was true of 25% of female athletes and 48% of non-athletes.
“One thing that stood out is that athletes were more likely to use marijuana because they thought it was pleasurable,” Buckman said.
Most athletes used marijuana for reasons like dealing with stress and this suggested that athletes largely smoke marijuana recreationally, rather than as a way of coping with life problems.
“That’s a really interesting finding, and it’s a direction for research to go in the future,” Buckman said. “What are the stressors for these athletes? Is it academic? Is it the athletic competition?”
Buckman noted that the ultimate goal in studies like these is to uncover factors that seem to influence drug use, then develop certain messages most likely to make a difference with a specific group.
Buckman pointed to the finding that female students with body-image worries were more likely to use marijuana than women without such concerns.
“This is a very commonly used drug,” Buckman said, “and we just need to understand more about the factors that influence people to use it.”
Jennifer F. Buckman, David A. Yusko, Samantha G. Farris, Helene R. White, Robert J. Pandina. Risk of Marijuana Use in Male and Female College Student Athletes and Nonathletes. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Volume 72, 2011 > Issue 4: July 2011