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J Addict Dis. 1997;16(3):25-30.

Medical use of recreational drugs by AIDS patients.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of South Alabama, Mobile 36693, USA.


A survey of 72 patients at an AIDS clinic regarding self-medication with recreational drugs for medical or psychological conditions related to their illness disclosed that marijuana was the primary drug used. The perceived benefit was for gastrointestinal conditions such as nausea, vomiting, indigestion and appetite improvement. Use of other "recreational" drugs as self-medication was reported to usually be ineffective or to worsen the condition they sought to help. Fifty-eight percent of patients reported some attempt to self-medicate. Thirty-two percent were currently using marijuana, and most admitted to pre-AIDS marijuana use. Fifty-seven percent of the sample reported some pre-AIDS drug use, primarily alcohol and marijuana. Results are discussed in terms of potential clinical problems arising from continued recreational drug use among AIDS patients.

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