What does it feel like to take anabolic steroids?
Anabolic steroids have psychological as well as physical effects.(1,2) The steroid abuser is more likely to experiences mood swings including euphoria and feelings of violence, and suicidal tendencies than his or her peers of the same sex and age.(2-7) These effects appear to stop after steroids are stopped, but it is unknown whether there is any permanent psychological change because no long-term studies of steroid effects on personality have been done.(8) Some researchers think that the feelings of euphoria, aggressiveness, and reduced fatigue caused by anabolic steroids motivate steroid abusers to work out harder and more often than their non-steroid-using counterparts.(4,7,9-11) They believe this is the real reason for increases in muscle mass by steroid abusers. High doses of steroids may alter a person's self-image and produce changes in behavior.(2,10-12) Weight-lifting steroid abusers who were evaluated with a standardized psychological test were found to have antisocial personality traits similar to those of alcoholics.(2,3) In one study, all but one subject described (roid Rage) "frequent episodes of temper outbursts, arguments, shouting or throwing objects, and having urges to beat, injure or harm others. . .."(2) Personality changes associated with anabolic steroid abuse have led to violence and the deaths of innocent bystanders.(10,13) In one review of such cases, (10) a weightlifter on steroids abducted and murdered a hitchhiker on impulse.(10) Another steroid user abducted a female store clerk on a whim and shot her when she tried to escape.(10) In a third case, a steroid abuser convinced a friend to help him plant an explosive device under his former fiancee's car. Fortunately, she was unhurt when they detonated it.(10) In another case, a steroid abuser burglarized three homes and set them afire, leading to $141,000 in property damages.(14) In each of these cases, there was no prior history of violence. Personalities returned to normal when steroids were stopped.(10,14)
1. Moore WV. Anabolic steroid use in adolescence. J Am Med
Assoc 1988 Dec 16;260(23):3484-6.
2. Perry PJ, Andersen KH, Yates WR. Illicit anabolic steroid use
in athletes - a case series analysis. Am J Sports Med 1990
3. Yates WR, Perry PJ, Andersen KH. Illicit anabolic steroid use
- a controlled personality study. Acta Psychiatr Scand 1990
4. Wagner JC. Abuse of drugs used to enhance athletic
performance. American Journal Of Hospital Pharmacy 1989
5. Brower KJ, Eliopulos GA, Blow FC, Catlin DH, Beresford TP.
Evidence for physical and psychological dependence on anabolic
androgenic steroids in 8 weight lifters. American Journal Of
Psychiatry 1990 Apr;147(4):510-2.
6. Council on Scientific Affairs. Drug abuse in athletes.
J Am Med Assoc 1988 Mar 18;259(11):1703-5.
7. Kibble MW, Ross MB. Adverse effects of anabolic steroids in
athletes. Clinical Pharmacy 1987 Sep;6:686-92.
8. Yesalis CE, Wright JE, Bahrke MS. Epidemiological and policy
issues in the measurement of the long term health effects of
anabolic-androgenic steroids. Sports Medicine 1989
9. Kashkin KB, Kleber HD. Hooked on hormones - an anabolic
steroid addiction hypothesis. J Am Med Assoc 1989 Dec
10. Pope HG, Katz DL. Homicide and near-homicide by anabolic
steroid users. Journal Of Clinical Psychiatry 1990
11. Brooks RV. Anabolic steroids and athletes. Phys Sportsmed 1980
12. Hays LR, Littleton S, Stillner V. Anabolic steroid dependence.
Am J Psychiatry 1990;147(1):122.
13. Conacher GN, Workman DG. Violent crime possibly associated
with anabolic steroid use. American Journal Of Psychiatry 1989
14. Kleinman CC. Forensic issues arising from the use of anabolic
steroids. Psychiatric Annals 1990 Apr;20(4):219-21.
by Trent Tschirgi, R. Ph.
(c) 1992 University of Maryland Office of Substance Abuse Studies.
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