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Severity of anabolic steroid dependence, executive function, and personality traits in substance use disorder patients in Norway

Scarth, Morgan, Havnes, Ingrid A, Jørstad, Marie L, McVeigh, Jim ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5319-6885, Van Hout, Marie Claire, Westlye, Lars T, Torgersen, Svenn and Bjørnebekk, Astrid (2022) Severity of anabolic steroid dependence, executive function, and personality traits in substance use disorder patients in Norway. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 231. p. 109275. ISSN 0376-8716

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Abstract

Introduction Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), including testosterone and synthetic derivatives, are typically used to increase muscle mass. Many users develop a dependence on these substances, contributing to worsened physical and mental health outcomes. Aspects of personality and executive dysfunction may represent underlying vulnerabilities for developing dependence. Objective To identify levels of AAS dependence within substance use disorder (SUD) treatment patients and assess the relationship between dependence severity and personality traits and executive function (EF). Methods Data were collected from patients at 38 SUD treatment facilities in Norway. Questionnaires were completed for measures of personality and EF. Measures of symptoms of AAS dependence were used in latent class analysis to identify sub-groups of patients, which were evaluated for association with EF and personality traits, and compared with a group of non-AAS using SUD patients. Results Three classes were identified; largely reflecting low, moderate, and high symptoms of dependence. Multinomial regression analyses indicated that moderate and high symptoms were associated with several measures of EF and personality traits, particularly self-monitoring, antagonism, disinhibition, and rigid perfectionism while users with low symptoms exhibited higher capacities for emotional control and shift, and lower negative affectivity, relative to non-AAS using SUD patients. Backward stepwise regressions indicated antagonism, and decreased self-monitoring as key personality and cognitive characteristics of SUD patients with severe AAS dependence. Conclusion Our findings indicate that specific executive dysfunctions and personality features, particularly those associated with poor emotional control, reduced empathy, and impulsivity are associated with more severe AAS dependence in the SUD population.

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