Are steroids be considered addictive?
Addiction has been defined (by Dr. David Smith of the Haight- Ashbury Clinic in San Francisco) as: Compulsive use with loss of control, and continued use despite adverse consequences. When the use of any drug or substance, including steroids, fits this description, the drug user has an addiction problem.(1) The characteristics of steroid addiction have been described as follows:(2) 1) Hormone is used over longer periods than desired. 2) Attempts are made to stop without success. 3) Substantial time is spent obtaining, using, or recovering from the hormones. 4) Use continues despite knowledge of significant psychological problems caused by the hormones. 5) Characteristic withdrawal symptoms occur. 6) Hormone use is resumed to relieve these withdrawal symptoms. People who are dependent on anabolic steroids frequently began to use them before age 16.(3) They take more cycles of steroids for longer periods of time, and take many different types of steroids at once.(3,4) They feel that their peers use anabolics, and perceive themselves as having less strength or smaller body size than their peers.(3,4) By contrast, there are no reports of anabolic steroid dependence caused by legitimate medical use.(3) In a psychological study of eight weightlifters, all eight had at least two symptoms of drug dependence on steroids. Six of them met the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-III-R definition of addiction.(5)
1. Brower KJ, Blow FC, Beresford TP, Fuelling C. Anabolic
androgenic steroid dependence. J Clin Psychiatry 1989
2. Kashkin KB, Kleber HD. Hooked on hormones - an anabolic
steroid addiction hypothesis. JAMA J Am Med Assoc 1989 Dec
3. Brower KJ. Addictive potential of anabolic steroids.
Psychiatric Annals 1992 Jan;22(1):30-4.
4. Hays LR, Littleton S, Stillner V. Anabolic steroid dependence.
Am J Psychiatry 1990;147(1):122.
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.
by Trent Tschirgi, R. Ph.
(c) 1992 University of Maryland Office of Substance Abuse Studies.
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