Background: The use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) has been associated with the use of illegal drugs. Earlier observations suggested that users of illegal drugs may use AAS for reasons other than increasing muscle strength or size. The aim of the present study was to investigate the motives for AAS use among outpatients at a substance abuse center in Stockholm, Sweden.
Methods: All male patients under the age of 50 were asked whether they had used AAS during a 2-month period. An AAS survey was administered to those who reported AAS experiences in the admittance interview.
Results: Twenty of the 175 respondents (11%) reported using AAS. The most frequently reported motives were related to anabolic effects (i.e., for a good-looking body, to become stronger, or to perform better in sports). However, some users reported other motives; for example, to conceal concomitant drug use, to alleviate insecurity or low self-esteem, to become brave, or in preparation of committing a crime. Furthermore, many respondents reported side effects that were associated with AAS; most notably, irritability and depression/suicidal ideation.
Conclusion: Some users of illicit drugs also use AAS for reasons other than the anabolic properties of these compounds. Therefore, considering that AAS may cause or contribute to diverse morbidity, it is important to ask users of illicit drugs about AAS use, even when obvious external signs of AAS use are lacking.
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