Exploring weight control as motivation for illicit stimulant use

Amanda B. Bruening, Marisol Perez La Mar, Tara K. Ohrt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective: Research has highlighted a growing trend among young, adult women to initiate drug use for weight loss. With known suppressive effects on appetite, illicit stimulants (i.e., cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy) may be particularly attractive to college women, who are at elevated risk for increased body dissatisfaction and experimenting with extreme weight loss techniques. The current study examines the association between risk factors and symptomatology of eating disorders and illicit stimulant use (ISU). Methods: A preliminary study was conducted on a nonclinical sample of 131 drug-using, college women (16- to 24-years old). Participants reported internalization of the thin ideal, body dissatisfaction, disordered eating behavior, and current drug use as well as corresponding weight-related motivation. Results: There were 15.3% of women who reported drug use for weight-control purposes. Results showed women who reported drug use for weight control predominantly used illicit stimulants (70%), such as cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy. Moreover, the odds of ISU were increased among women who engaged in laxative misuse. Conclusions: These results suggest that a desire for weight control may be associated with ISU among college women. Women engaging in more extreme weight loss behaviors are at high risk for initiating and maintaining ISU for weight-related reasons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-75
Number of pages4
JournalEating Behaviors
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Appetite suppression
  • Compensatory behaviors
  • Eating disorders
  • Illicit stimulant use
  • Weight control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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