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The epidemiology of anabolic–androgenic steroid use among Australian secondary school students

      Abstract

      There is evidence to suggest that the prevalence of anabolic–androgenic steroids (AAS) is higher among young people than the general population. The purpose of the current study was to examine the proportion of students who reported lifetime and past-year AAS use, explore other drug use among those who reported AAS use, and investigate demographic correlates of AAS use. Data was taken from a cross-sectional survey of a representative sample of Australian secondary students. A stratified two-stage probability sampling methodology was employed and schools were randomly sampled from each Australian State and Territory. A total of 376 schools participated in the survey. Lifetime AAS use was reported by 2.4% of 12–17-year-old students; use was more common among 12–15-year olds then 16–17-year olds. Regardless of age, being male, speaking a language other than English at home, not be at school on the previous school day, and rating own scholastic ability as below average were all associated with a greater likelihood of using AAS in their lifetime and in the past year. Those who reported AAS use also reported the use of a range of other substances, suggesting that AAS use may be part of a broader experimentation with substances. Interventions towards these groups regarding AAS may best be placed within a larger substance use intervention rather than being AAS-specific. In light of the low levels of AAS use among this group, more detailed research into AAS use among adolescent sporting groups may be warranted.

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