Young adults and everyday life´s medicine

Young adult's non-medical use of prescription drugs for managing everyday life


This PhD project provides insights into Danish university and college students’ experiences with non-medical use of prescription drugs in the context of everyday life. It focuses, specifically, on students’ experiences of time in everyday life and explores how they use drugs to ‘work on time’ in everyday life, in combatting such issues as time famine, stress, and difficulties falling asleep, attempts to gain a desired level of concentration, focus and energy while studying. The project explores how prescription drugs are used to adjust individual bodies and minds to structurally imposed, or culturally preferred, everyday rhythms and temporal norms.


In Denmark, as in many other countries, the use of medical psychotherapeutic drugs, such as ADHD-stimulants, sedatives, and opioid analgesics, is currently at an all-time high. Increases in the prescriptions of psychotherapeutic drugs have, in many countries, been associated with an increase in the ‘non-medical’ use of these drugs. Non-medical use is defined as using prescription medications without a prescription and/or in other ways other than originally prescribed by a doctor. Existing research suggests that in particular young adults use prescription drugs not only to treat medical symptoms but with intention of ‘treating’ or ‘enhancing’ individual functioning in everyday life.  Little is known about this phenomenon in a Danish context.

The study

The basis of the project is an empirical investigation of individual in-depth qualitative interviews with 29 young adults (aged 18-30), who have used prescription drugs non-medically in their everyday life as college or university student. The interviews were designed to generate narrative accounts of everyday life and educational experiences and the various aspects of the situations of non-medical drug use, in particular descriptions of drug use practices and experiences and reflections on the motives to use as well as thoughts about expectations to use or not use in the future.  

The project uses philosophical and sociological notions of time to inquire into the social temporalities of young peoples’ everyday lives and drug use practices and experiences. It seeks to take into account how many interviewees’ express ambivalence in relation to their own drug use.


The PhD project is financed by Aarhus BSS Graduate School, Aarhus University.


The project is conducted by Lea Trier Krøll, cand.scient.soc., PhD fellow, and supervised by Professor Geoffrey Hunt, Assistant Professor Jeanett Bjønness, and Associate Professor Esben Houborg. A part of the project has been conducted during a five month research stay with the Chemical Youth research group lead by Professor Anita Hardon at Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR), University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.