National College Prescription Drug Study Underway at 16 Universities

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), college students continually report higher rates of prescription drug misuse. Because of the unique risk factors, research aimed at understanding the needs and experiences of college students is important to inform prevention programming. At The Ohio State University, the College Prescription Drug Study (CPDS) is one no-cost strategy to obtaining this information.

CPDS is a free, multi-institutional survey of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with the purpose of providing a national picture of college students’ misuse use of prescription drugs. Originally, CPDS was administered through Ohio State’s Center for the Study of Student Life and developed in collaboration with the Student Wellness Center, College of Pharmacy, and the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery (HECAOD). Under the leadership of Tessa Miracle, PhD, Nicole Kwiek, PhD, and Emily Baker, PhD, the program shifted entirely to Ohio State’s College of Pharmacy alongside Generation Rx, a national medication safety education program.

Tessa and Emily have partnered with multiple collegiate institutions across the United States to continue the efforts of the Center for the Study of Student Life. The 2022 CPDS is currently underway and has recruited over 65,000 students across 16 institutions for online participation. At the conclusion of the study, each institution will receive a report on students’ nonmedical use of prescription drugs on their campus(es), including frequency of use, reasons for and consequences of use, access to prescription drugs, social perceptions of use among students, and linkages of prescription drug misuse to misuse of nonprescription or illicit drugs.

This information is essential for planning and implementing effective prevention programs on college campuses that addresses the root causes for student misuse. The data gathered in this study can inform strategic prevention plans at each specific institution and broadly evaluate prevention programs currently implemented on campuses, like Generation Rx.

Generation Rx is an evidence-informed primary prevention strategy to address prescription drug misuse. The Generation Rx University Toolkit appropriately targets students at heightened risk. For example, Molly Downing, PhD, associate director of Generation Rx and a College of Pharmacy faculty member, has collaborated with fraternity and sorority life members to leverage the Generation Rx toolkits to educate students about prescription drug misuse and safe medication practices. These initiatives are made possible through regular assessment of the prescription drug misuse using studies like CPDS.

With the current study, the CPDS team is particularly interested in understanding emerging trends in prescription and nonprescription drug use since the global pandemic. CPDS is normally administered every two years, but the global pandemic led to a four-year gap. The current study will update the knowledge base by providing current rates of prescription drug misuse on college campuses and a better understanding of the impact of the pandemic on this important issue. Such information can help prevention programs like Generation Rx adjust their resources to meet the needs of college students today.

If you are interested in learning more about CPDS, visit To learn more about Generation Rx, visit


Emily Baker, PhD, LPCC
Postdoctoral Scholar for Generation Rx