Background: Use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AASs) has been associated with both violent crime and the use of illicit drugs. The scientific literature on polysubstance abuse as a confounder for AAS-related violence is sparse and ambiguous. With the intent of further investigating this issue, we have gathered data concerning drug abuse and AAS experience among substance abusers who have been arrested for a variety of crimes.
Methods: Data were collected from structured interviews with substance abusers (n=3597) apprehended at two remand prisons in Sweden from 2002 through 2008. Analyses concerned type of criminal act, primary drug used during the past year, and experience of AAS use.
Results: Those stating AAS experience (n=924, 20 women and 904 men) were more often apprehended for violent crimes (OR=1.65). This association remained significant after controlling for age and sex (OR=1.28). AAS users and non-users claimed similar primary substances of use during the past year, with the exception of benzodiazepine use, which was more common in the AAS group (OR=2.30), although this did not affect the frequency of violent crime. Among AAS-experienced participants, there was no difference in violent crime incidence between current users and former users.
Conclusions: Study results suggest that AASs do not function as a proximal trigger for violence but still involve an increased risk for violence in users of illicit drugs. These findings also suggest that AAS use is highly overrepresented in women who commit crimes.
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