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Are Steroids Addictive?

This means that people experience a compulsion to take a drug even though they know there might be adverse consequences that result from drug use. There are not many large-scale long- term studies of the psychiatric effects of steroids. 

Animal studies have shown that anabolic steroids are reinforcing. For example, animals will self-administer some types of steroids when given the opportunity, just as they do with other addictive drugs. This property is more difficult to demonstrate in humans. 

Certainly, some users keep taking steroids in spite of the cost, physical problems, negative effects on social relations, and increased nervousness or irritability. 

Others experienced typical withdrawal symptoms when they stopped taking steroids, such as depression, major mood swings, fatigue, loss of appetite, and reduced sex drive. These are symptoms of dependence or psychological addiction. 

However, not everyone who takes anabolic steroids experiences these symptoms. Tens of thousands of users have quit and experienced no symptoms at all. One expert believes a quarter to a half of those who use steroids solely to improve their body image exhibit signs of psychological dependence.

A much smaller group experience symptoms of psychological dependence needing clinical treatment. The exact relationship between the use of anabolic steroids and psychological addiction is not yet clear. 

Scientists are nearly unanimous that excessive testosterone causes aggression in rats and monkeys, but this association is not clear in humans.

Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that high-dose anabolic steroid users sometimes experience short temper, extreme irritability, and elevated feelings of aggression. These symptoms of heavy steroid use are sometimes called “roid rage.” The media has popularized stories linking steroids with murder, domestic violence, armed robbery, child abuse, and road rage. 

However, there is no agreement among doctors or researchers as to whether “roid rage” actually exists. Some studies report no increase in aggression or hostility with steroid use. Anabolic steroids tend to amplify traits a user already possesses.

A steroid user with anger problems is more likely to experience heightened aggression. However, “aggression” is not clearly defined or easily quantified. The fact that a steroid user self-reports that she or he feels more aggressive does not necessarily mean that the person is on the verge of violent behavior. 

Clinical and anecdotal reports suggest that anabolic steroids may contribute to psychiatric problems involving increased aggression. However, an extremely small percentage of the estimated one million past or current steroid users in the United States appear to have experienced mental disturbance severe enough to result in clinical treatments. This ambiguity of all the research data on anabolic steroids leads to the controversy over steroid use.

Sterngass Jon, Controversy! Steroids, 2011
Duchaine Daniel, Underground Steroid Handbook II, 2006
Hart Mick, Laymans Guides to Steroids
Hart Mick, Laymans Guides II - Return of the Syringe
Hart Mick, Laymans Guides III - Return of the Syringe  
Hardcore, Complete Steroid Handbook, 2004

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