What is Roid Rage?
Roid rage can be defined as a condition in which people tend to act aggressively after taking unusual doses of anabolic steroids regularly. In recent years, several high profile murders and attacks have been attributed to roid rage.
It is important to understand that roid rage is not indicative of anything, nor does it find any place in medical terminology. It is actually slang and it has not received any formal recognition by any medical establishment or scientific governing body.
Scientists, medical professionals, doctors and other experts do believe that this condition exists. Nor is it possible to entirely discard it because individuals who take anabolic-androgenic steroids are seen to become more aggressive and prone to anger. Let us try and examine the concept in detail to see if there can be a rational explanation for roid rage and if not, what could have caused the phenomenon.
Roid Rage: Origins
It is well known that men are more aggressive than women and are likely to take more risks. The primary causative factor behind this could be the higher production of Testosterone in the male body.
Testosterone and other associated androgens act upon the hypothalamus and the amygdala, which are regions of the brain that play an important role in the control of aggression. Androgens also affect other areas of the brain such as the orbitofrontal cortex, which controls the function of governing impulse. However there is no reason why this effect of androgens on the brain should result in violent acts and aggression. In light of these facts, many people say that roid rage is only an exaggeration of several minor truths and therefore can be called a myth.
When we use the word ‘aggression’ in reference to athletes and bodybuilders, it usually means that the individual is going all out to succeed. It can also be refer to their vigorous energy and competitiveness and a tendency to show bold assertiveness. This is in stark contrast to the definition of roid rage which usually translates to being uncontrollable, acting mindlessly and being impulsively violent.
The aggression that comes with the use of anabolic steroids may manifest in an increase in determination and drive. It could also mean that the bodybuilder or athlete wants to accomplish his tasks and challenges in a competitive spirit. Most individuals who use anabolic steroids do not even experience this increase in aggression, while other may show it in varying degrees.
Scientific and Medical Data on Roid Rage
Many studies have been conducted to gauge the psychological effects of introducing various doses of exogenous Testosterone into the body. It was seen that therapeutic doses of Testosterone did not produce any abnormal psychological side effects. On the contrary, most of the studies showed that Testosterone Replacement Therapy with synthetic Testosterone led to extremely beneficial and positive improvements in the subject’s quality of life, well-being and mood.
Here is a well cited study. When a supraphysiological dose of 300 mg Testosterone was injected into subjects over one week, a few of the test subjects showed an increase in aggression, but the effect was mild and infrequent.
Next, the dosage was increased to 500 to 600 mg every week. Some of the subjects showed a further increase in aggression, while some of them (5%) exhibited hypomania and/or manic behavior.
Hypomania can be described as a pervasive and persistent euphoric state often followed by irritability. It is described as a state of mind and is consistent with behaviors and thoughts associated with such a mood. On the other hand, if a person is manic, he is said to be in an abnormally elevated mood or possess such energy levels. In another sense, it is just the opposite of depression. Many people associate hypomania or manic with being deranged, berserk, psychotic or crazy, but this is not true at all.
If fact, if a person who has hypomania is able to channel his hypomania and control it properly, it can have beneficial effects. It can drive the individual to fulfill tasks and challenges. Many famous individual and high achievers like Sir Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Alexander Hamilton, and Christopher Columbus have exhibited hypomanic behavior.
More than a million Americans use anabolic steroids to obtain physical gains and only a small percentage of them have had to seek medical intervention for psychological disturbances. No matter what the drug is, there will always be some people who experience physical and psychological side effects.
Since we are discussing the psychological effects of taking anabolic steroids, it is possible that there might be individuals who are prone to excessive aggression levels and after the use of anabolic steroids, these states get amplified. But such a condition cannot be attributed to the use of anabolic steroids alone. There are several psychological aspects and determinants that can also contribute to such an outcome.
It is suggested that anabolic steroids may lead to psychological and physical dependency (from a 1989 study by Yesalis, Wright and Bahrke). But another well known researcher and steroid expert, Dr. Mauro DiPasquale says that anabolic steroids cannot be compared to psychoactive compounds because people cannot get psychologically or physically addicted to them.
Before the advent of other effective drugs, anabolic androgenic steroids were used to treat depression and related mental disorders. Electroencephalogram readings from those who used anabolic steroids are similar to the readings from those who used tricyclic antidepressants and amphetamines. While there are reports of users suffering from psychotic episodes, hypomania and schizophrenia after using anabolic steroids, there is no documentation of them causing any hostility in human beings.
On the other hand, it can increase self confidence, arousal and the threshold for pain. A 1990 study by Bahrke, Yesalis & Wright argues that many of the perceived behavioral and psychological changes result from imitation, role modeling and expectancy.
Here is a study that could shed more light on social behavior among those who take anabolic steroids. A group of crab-eating macaques were administered Testosterone Propionate and Testosterone Cypionate in dosages of 4 mg (for every kg of body weight once every week) and 2 mg every 2 weeks, respectively. The experiment was continued for 8 weeks. Behavioral data from the experiment suggests that the dominate monkeys showed an increase in their dominant behavior while the subordinate monkeys showed increased submission. The monkeys that were administered the steroids also demonstrated a decrease in affiliate behavior like grooming activities, body contact and play. After the monkeys had recovered for 8 weeks, it was noticed that their dominant or submissive behaviors had come back to normal.
There is also another interesting phenomenon associated with the use of anabolic steroids. If an individual shows temper or anger control issues, the problems can be amplified after the individual starts using anabolic steroids. This is another hypothesis that is used to explain why an individual who is taking anabolic steroids may exhibit aggressive behavior. In such cases, anabolic steroids are not causative factors, but supportive factors.
Another hypothesis says that roid rage is just a placebo effect and it is only playing out in the individual’s mind. A lot of negative things are being said about anabolic steroids and events like the Chris Benoit and Oscar Pistorius case have reinforced the supposedly negative effects of anabolic use.
The anabolic steroid user who hears or reads such news receives a kind of repetitive reinforcement, and eventually but erroneously accepting that such behavior is expected after using anabolic steroids. If the individual exhibits such behavior, he attributes it to his use of anabolic steroids. The question to be asked is, if the person had never heard of roid rage or the other psychological effects of using anabolic steroids, would he have held the drugs responsible for his actions.
If people keep telling a person a particular thing over and over again, the thought gets reinforced in his mind and he starts believing that the thing actually exists, whether or not it is actually true. Many people who are planning to use anabolic steroids already have the idea that the use of anabolic steroids can lead to aggression, irritability and anger planted in their heads firmy. The person then subconsciously (or consciously) obsesses over the issue and as he continues using the steroids, he begins to manifest signs of aggression, anger and irritability. But this is not because he is using anabolic steroids but because he is convinced that he is going to see roid rage.
When a person’s criminal act gets linked with roid rage, he becomes less guilty in the eyes of the law. This is a highly inadequate defense; given that people willingly use anabolic steroids fully aware of the consequences that can be a result from using them. Anabolic steroid induced aggressive behavior is not as dangerous as is often portrayed by the media.
When people take anabolic steroids, they are basically adding testosterone to their system. The abundance of testosterone, can have several positive effects on a person’s psyche in the beginning. But if they extend their steroid cycles and start taking larger doses. they are likely to encounter negative effects.
Initially steroid users experience extreme euphoria and the feeling of being unconquerable. With the continued of steroidal drugs a person may start experiencing greater mood swings and changes in behavior. For example, increased aggressiveness, hostility and other symptoms like mania, acute depression and schizophrenia and more. Not only is roid rage being linked to inexplicable mood changes, it is also being associated with rising cases of suicides in the mainstream population.
Many studies have tried to assess the dynamics of roid rage, and they have shown that the people who tend to experience it have a history of aggressive behavior, hostility and violence before they started using anabolic steroids. This automatically suggests that those who are prone to violent behavior are likely to suffer from roid rage. These studies also point to the fact that roid rage should not be a suitable defense to protect people who have indulged in criminal acts. The individual is likely to have committed other violent acts or have severe tendencies of committing violent crimes.
Such tendencies have also been identified as a side effect of steroid withdrawal, because steroids are capable of inducing euphoria and if they are abruptly discontinued, it can lead to a person acting violently. Users who have utilized steroids for prolonged periods should be under careful medical examination and should be given proper medical guidance against what may be a case of steroid addiction.
All steroid users are potentially exposing themselves to the side effect of extreme change in behavior while using steroids. Some users are likely to be extremely vulnerable allowing for changes in behavior to occur at an accelerated rate. This can cause that particular user to behave in such a manner which can lead to quick destruction of his/her life. It is clear that roid rage is a serious concern and it is a realistic threat which comes with steroid abuse. Roid rage stands out to be the most dangerous side effect of steroid use, because there have been many reported cases of a users hurting both themselves and their close ones following fits of anger which can be directly linked with steroid use.
There have been many cases of steroid induced roid rage which have been particularly observed among bodybuilders and performance athletes.
WWE fans around the world will never forget Chris Benoit, undoubtedly one of the most talented men to have stepped into the ring, in the history of professional wrestling. But he will perhaps be most remembered for the circumstances of his death in 2007.
Chris, along with wife Nancy and their only child Daniel were all found dead in their Fayetteville home near Atlanta in the month of June, 2007. The deaths were called a murder suicide. Chris Benoit allegedly murdered both his wife and son, before hanging himself to death.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) performed several toxicology tests to determine if any illegal substances were present if in Chris Benoit’s blood stream. Xanax (anti-anxiety drug) and the painkilling drug Hydrocodone were discovered in his blood. An extraordinary level of testosterone was also detected in his urine. The levels of Xanax and Hydrocodone in his body suggested that he was using them in line with their typical medical usage and not abusing them. The elevated levels of testosterone however told a different atory. The GBI officials could not verify the length of time he could have administering the steroid to himself. There was no trace of other steroids in Chris Benoit’s urine. The immediate backlash of the Chris Benoit homicide was that people started questioning whether he might have been a victim of steroid induced ‘roid rage’.
Following this incident, a federal investigation was conducted by the authorities on the extent of steroid use in the WWE. The death of the much loved Chris Benoit who was always a fan favorite had shocked audiences around the world overnight.
Another High Profile Roid Rage Case
On 14th February, South African reality show contestant and model, Reeva Steenkamp was shot and killed in South Africa. Shockingly, the person responsible for the shooting was Olympian and double amputee runner Oscar Pistorius, also known as ‘The Blade Runner’. The incident took place in Oscar Pistorius’ Pretoria home.
Reeva Steenkamp was reportedly in the bathroom, when she was shot three times, through the bathroom door. Oscar Pristorius says he did not know it was her and fired the shots thinking it was a burglar. He was later arrested and charged with the murder of Reeva Steenkamp.
It emerged that investigators found steroids in Oscar’s bedroom. The stash of steroids reportedly ran into several boxes and included Testosterone, which has potent androgenic properties. There are rumors that Oscar Pistorius’ actions were influenced by the steroids he was supposedly taking.
Research into Roid Rage: New England Journal of Medicine
Arguments centering on roid rage have been going on for decades. Many have accepted the premise that the greater the dose being administered by a user, the greater the risk of showing uncontrollable roid rage. However through their research the ‘New England Journal of Medicine, (NEJM) which is an extremely prestigious medical journal came to the conclusion that the experts were not always right about roid rage being caused by steroids.
The research they conducted suggested that to say aggressive tendencies stemmed from the use of anabolic steroids was untrue or so less it was insignificant. These revelations bring us to our next question.
Most of the previous theories surrounding dosing implied that the greater the dose, the greater the risk to experiencing roid rage. How could the NEJM test nullify this?
When we are talking about anabolic steroid administration or Hormone Replacement Therapy, rarely are the dosages likely to be above 200 mg. When users tend to surpass these levels, it is most likely for performance enhancement motives. In their experiment, the NEJM did not exactly give their test subjects HRT doses; they actually did the opposite. The test subjects comprised of healthy men, individuals who had no history of mental illness or violent acts. The dosages these men were being given amounted up to 600mg per week for a total period of 10 weeks.
To understand the mental behavior of every man involved, a series of mock questions were asked to the subjects and a single individual who was living with them, such as a parent or a spouse.
An important thing to note here would be that this test was undertaken on 4 groups of men. The first group was administered testosterone while they were on an exercising program, the second group was not on any exercise program. The third group was given a placebo and the fourth group was put on a placebo and an exercise program. The test group consisted of men aged between 19-40 years. The findings of the NEJM tests were as follows:
“Zero differences were observed between the groups which went through exercise programs and the ones who did not have to go through an exercise program. Also, no major changes were observed between the groups on placebo drugs. The assessment was conducted in respect to the five sub divisions of anger classified under the Multidimensional Anger Inventory. No major changes were reported by the parents, spouses or living partners of the subjects.
Roid Rage: A Myth?
The study conducted by the NEJM contradicts the traditional beliefs on roid rage and cleanly denies the existence of roid rage. However, real life situations can differ in many ways from controlled experiments. Many users have gone on record to state that post steroidal administration, they have experienced increased aggression. They however, deny it being at the levels which are often purported in the media and mainstream society.
Veterans who have used steroids in the past have their own analogy to this. Speaking from experience, they admit that there is an identifiable increase of aggression levels after steroidal administration. However, they too do not agree to the fact that steroid use can lead to massive increase in aggression levels and/or develop murderous tendencies in individuals. They are of the view that such increases can only be seen on individuals who already have a previous history of mental instability, violence and anger issues. Therefore, the existence of roid rage cannot be nullified but it is a fact that it only affects people who are already likely to break the law.
Effects of Anabolic Steroids and Testosterone on Emotion
Roid rage is mostly a myth. There are of course off-cases that seem as if there exists a relation between anabolic steroids and emotion. However, these cases are extremely rare, and could just be mental instability on the part of the user. It cannot be proved that the drug caused the breakdown and excessive anger. Anabolic drugs are known to make a user aggressive, but not to the extent of harming someone against his will.
The media is also quite responsible in promoting such things as truth because of their biased approach to steroids. Drugs of any kind are tabooed, which is why they are shown in a negative light in popular television series and news. Here are some of the effects of these testosterone based steroids on the cognition of males.
If a steroid user takes a dosage of about two hundred milligrams per week, then it is evident that there is some increase in sexual drive in males. Although this sexual drive is increased, it does not mean that sexual action has to necessarily increase. In the studies that were conducted users did not find an increase in an increased aggression either
Another study was done to check whether men who had low levels of testosterone had the tendency to become aggressive after a dosage of Testosterone Enanthate or not. The study showed a negative correlation in that the steroid has no effect on the individual’s tendency to become aggressive whatsoever. However, a relationship was found between the use of the drug and impulsivity on the part of the user. A higher dosage of six hundred milligrams also showed no effect or relationship between anger and anabolic steroids.
Males with reduced testosterone in their bodies tended to show a more positive outlook with regard to personal well-being while still on the drug. This was found after introspective studies where users would mention their own state of being before and after the administering of the anabolic steroid.
When exogenous testosterone was introduced into the bodies of hypogonadic men, they found that their mood was alleviated. On the other hand, eugonadic males, those with normal levels of testosterone in their bodies, saw no difference in state of being before or after the administering of the anabolic steroid. Some other studies showed slightly positive results, but nothing substantial enough to prove anything in this regard.
There are other factors that need to be considered regarding Testosterone Enanthate injections and their psychological effects on men. It is important to understand that regardless of whether roid rage is a myth or not, anabolic steroids do have certain positive and also negative effects men of different ages.
Users of the drug were seen to be able to speak more fluently. On the down side they became clumsier because of the adverse effect the drug has on spatial capabilities. When the steroid was administered on hypogonadic males, it did not always show the same effect. In men who were slightly older in terms of age, verbal skill came down while spatial abilities improved.
Healthy Adults and Roid Rage
In every debate involving anabolic steroids, the key words are always likely to be ‘responsible use and avoid abuse.’ There is no research, no evidence on any laboratory or any medical records which can prove that individuals who possess good mental capacity, who have the capacity to carry themselves with their sanity intact and who are able to show upright behavior can be victims of roid rage. You can try to do research on the same but you are unlikely to come up with enough conclusive evidence which can credit anabolic steroids to be the main factor for roid rage. Also, many ‘experts’ on steroids are not really experts at all and their write-ups are usually fabricated. Do not take them seriously if they have not included any conclusive evidence to support their words.
Roid Rage and the Media
The media loves sensationalism and you will often hear of roid rage on your local news channels. It is almost convenient for broadcasters to brand stories on anabolic steroids with ‘Roid Rage’ as a part of the headline. Each time a person is suspected to be guilty of roid rage, he or she is likely to be heavily criticized in the media. Not only will this issue become a news item, it will also become the fodder for several feature presentations going ahead.
We have discussed the highly scrutinized homicide case of WWE superstar Chris Benoit. Roid rage was branded as the cause for his actions. Benoit who had been using both Xanax and Hydrocodone was also found to be using Testosterone. The fact that he was using other drugs has always been mentioned in passing while there has been an unfair amount of stress on the anabolic steroid use. Was there ever an attempt to understand whether Benoit was mentally stable?
There are many other aspects to this case which have always been ignored. The media choose to highlight the presence of anabolic steroid in Benoit’s body although Xanax and Hydrocodone were also found in his system. You have to ask yourselves, how is this fair and responsible journalism?
How Common is Roid Rage?
When this question was posted to one Grady Wedler, who is an expert on roid rage he stated that although he will not deny the presence of roid rage he will also not give it the undeserved credit of being a major outcome of steroid use. He feels the media has the tendency to over scrutinize and sensationalize issues related to steroid use.
Could Anabolic Steroids be Held Accountable for Criminal Acts?
In truth, anabolic steroids can in fact be held accountable for certain amount of criminal activity, especially if the act involves violence. When you boost the testosterone levels in your body through artificaial means you are not allowing your body to produce its own testosterone. In this case, the hormonal imbalance can cause unnecessary aggression. Sometimes this roid rage is important because it helps increase the competitive spirit in the user; however, it can have certain side effects such as prolonged rage even after the competitive environment ceases to exist . There can also be some amount of depression as the body recuperates.
The depression in this case could possibly be because of a certain level of dependence to the drug and the rush. Due to this factor, the absence of the drug can therefore cause a negative sensation within the anabolic steroid user. However, it is extremely difficult to prove the cause and effect regarding steroid use and criminal activity in court. This is because of the fact that not every user tends to show aggressive behavior while he is on hormonal supplements. Different people handle the drug differently because of other factors.
Some people may show aggression because they already have a tendency to act out towards scenarios in their environment. Some people overreact or get angry due to certain factors pertaining to their social environment. It has been proven that anabolic steroids can have the effect of causing a user to become aggressive, but the issue at hand is you cannot prove this anywhere because of how different people handle the substance. Also, the use and distribution of anabolic steroids, except for medical use, are illegal. This includes the use of anabolic steroids for enhancing the physique (bodybuilders) or performance (athletes). if you are charged for either of these crimes (possession or distribution), the court can find you guilty and punish you
If you are caught for possessing anabolic steroids without a prescription, you can face quite severe consequences including a fine and jail time. These sentences are harsher for those who are caught with the intent to distribute and make a profit out of a black market business. It is a tricky business when it comes to anabolic steroids because they are not similar to other drugs like barbiturates, tranquilizers and hallucinogens, but they come under the same category in legal terms and therefore the punishment regarding owning them is the same. There is no treatment per se with regard to the roid rage phenomenon.
Most people would propagate that prevention is better than cure and have you get off the drug so that you will not have to face such issues. But they fail to understand that users cannot quit anabolic steroids so easily because their bodies have adapted to the excessive hormones and soon start requiring them to remain at such levels.
However, there are no treatment mechanisms yet for this agression because of the discrepancies involving the true cause and effect behind drug use and anger issues. Some experts say that it is not possible to determine the exact role the steroid has to play in a person’s aggressive and the extent to which the anabolic steroid affects a person.
These factors remain variable till date because of individual differences regarding in-born characteristics and other internal factors. This becomes even vaguer when paired with external factors and situational instances that you cannot measure as could be seen in the Chris Benoit murder-suicide case.
People Likely to Suffer from Roid Rage
There are certain people who are more vulnerable to steroids than others. These include:
- The mentally unstable personsThose having a history of mental issues should not be using anabolic steroids as they have the potential to resurrect such potential complications.
- The prolonged steroid user
- Those who are likely to be on long term administration are most likely to show some form of mood or behavior change.
- Steroid abuser
- Steroid abusers who take exorbitant high dosages of the drug are in high risk of suffering from roid rage.
Users who feel they have roid rage should seek help immediately. They should consult their doctor immediately for ways to get off the steroids and seek psychiatric counseling. Timely intervention by medical professionals can help the concerned person recover from excessive aggression or other symptoms of roid rage.
Signs of Roid Rage
There are several giveaways when a person is suffering from roid rage. They are as follows:
- Over aggressive behavior: It is basically one of the biggest indicators to look for in a person suffering from roid rage. There will be a noticeable difference in users post steroidal administration.
- Hostility: Persons affected with roid rage are likely to be very erratic and hostile towards others.
- Violence: People who are affected with roid rage tend to resort to violent acts. They are usually not in complete control of their actions but this put people close to the user at great risk.
- Social isolation: Users affected by roid rage become increasingly difficult to talk to as they are always aloof and maintain distance from the others.
- Sudden mood swings: Users affected by roid rage suffer from constant mood swings. They have moments of euphoria followed by periods of depression.
- Increasing anonymity: Users affected by roid rage are often likely to be secretive about his actions and refrain from family activities.
- Refrain from socializing: Users affected with roid rage are increasingly likely to avoid socialising and act abnormally around too many people.
- Tendency to get into fights: Users affected with roid rage can be very dangerous and have the tendency to get into violent physical fights.
- False feeling of superiority: Users suffering from roid rage are increasingly likely to develop a false sense of superiority, which makes them believe that they are not responsible for their actions and they have the license to hurt and threaten others at will.
- Sadism: Users under a roid rage spell can develop sadistic tendencies which can end up in him inflicting damage on him or others around him.
- Delusional: Users affected by roid rage are going to behave increasingly delusional as time passes. He will seem disoriented all the time and will be unable to comprehend what others have to say.
- Tendency to commit crime: Users affected by roid rage may take to criminal activities to feed their new found hunger for risk and violence. This can be dangerous for the person’s career as he may work up a rap sheet which will be difficult to pardon even if he alleges his crimes on roid rage.
- Increased exposure to gym accidents: Users affected by roid rage tend to push their limits in the gym because they are maddeningly confident of their abilities. This may result in them unknowingly stressing themselves too much while exercising.
- Immense behavior changes: Once the user has entered the roid rage phase, he may begin to show drastic behavioral changes. He may become a mere shadow of his former self.
- Schizophrenia: People with this disorder tend to hear voices. They feel their minds are being read by other people and that other people have access to their brains. They may think that other people are taking control of their thoughts or plotting ways to cause harm to them
- This is why schizophrenic patients are more and more likely to be withdrawn or suffer from extreme agitation. Schizophrenic people cannot make sense when they are talking. They may sit down without communicating and showing any signs of life for hours at a stretch. At times they may appear completely normal but when they open their mouths to talk they do not make any sense at all.
- Self-damage: Users affected with roid rage can in a state of oblivion cause great harm to themselves.
- Suicidal tendencies: Users affected by roid rage may develop suicidal tendencies over time as they continue to feel detached from the world around them and feel that death is the only option.
- Refusal to seek help: Most steroid users under roid rage feel so superior to others that they do not feel the need to take medical help for their condition. They feel like others are inferior and subsequently jealous of their superiority.
- Disrespect for others: Most steroid users under roid rage tend to be extremely disrespectful towards people who are known to them. They tend to forget the relationship they previously shared with people.
- Abusive: Steroid users under roid rage become increasingly abusive once time passes. They may say things which they should not be saying and hurt people without any remorse.
- Sleep deprivation: Because of the overwhelming psychological odds being faced by users under roid rage influence, sleep can prove to be an unaffordable luxury.
- Excessive sweating: Sweating is observed among all users who are suffering from roid rage. This condition will tend to stick even if the temperatures are cooler.
- Experimentation with other steroids: Because steroid users under roid rage, feel that steroids are the fuel to their superiority they are likely to start experimenting with different drugs and variations of drugs.
The fact is Testosterone, its derivatives and analogues can increase aggression in varying degrees. The degree of aggression that the individual shows is dependent on many factors like what volume of the steroid he is using, the variety of the anabolic steroid, the length of the steroid cycle and finally whether it is a injectable or oral anabolic steroid.
Studies have shown that psychotic behavior may be seen in some of the people who use anabolic steroids. This can be 2% to 4% of the users. These symptoms may be as simple as angry outbursts or as extreme as sudden and erratic violent behavior.
Let us see what kind of people will more likely use anabolic steroids. These people are quite aggressive and driven. Their desire to obtain strength and muscle mass is stronger than their desire to follow the law. They are also likely to show the motivation and energy to put in 1-2 hours in the gym every day. If a person has an aggressive personality and he has elevated the level of Testosterone in his blood by artificial means, his aggression is going to get amplified. If someone is already a bad egg, taking anabolic steroids can cause his personality to worsen.
Steroids can increase motivation, drive, physique and performance. As long as an individual uses the energy he gets from using steroids in a positive way- to gain more strength and muscle growth and takes proper precautions for his health, he may do well.
So is there really such a thing as roid rage? Or is just another story that the media has blown up or concocted to scare steroid users? It is not possible to lay the blame entirely on other parties. Many bodybuilders charged with committing crimes have put the blame for their behavior on the anabolic steroids that they were taking and not the decisions that they made. Their legal teams argue that the reason their clients behaved the way they did was because they were taking artificial hormones and they could not prevent their actions. The media has a field time running these stories because the issue is such that it gets both positive and negative feedback from their viewers, which is what they want.
Take the unfortunate case of Chris Benoit. The WWE wrestler killed his family before hanging himself. When the media discovered that Chris Benoit was using anabolic steroids, they put the spot light on anabolic steroids as the prime cause for the tragedy.
But the media (intentionally or unintentionally) choose to brush away the fact that Chris Benoit’s toxicology reports showed that his body contained high levels of Hydrocodone and Xanax and he was being treated for long term depression. He was also suffering from brain damage brought on by years of head trauma sustained from his career as a champion wrestler. Note that brain damage is common among boxers and professional wrestlers.
After the incident, tests conducted on Chris Benoit’s brain made the shocking revelation that his brain was severely damaged. The chief medical examiner ruled out roid rage as responsible for his actions. The media ignored these facts, and continued to demonize the use of anabolic steroids for improving physique and performance, overlooking the role of other factors that were perhaps more influential in such crimes. In Chris Benoit’s case, it would be severe depression and irreversible brain damage.
The U.S first thought about listing anabolic steroids as controlled substances after a controversy at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics involving sprinter Ben Johnson. Ben Johnson had won the 100m race in a time of 9.79 second, setting a new world record. But three days later, he was stripped of his title because he tested positive for a performance enhancing anabolic steroid called Stanozolol, better known as Winstrol.
During subsequent hearings on the issue (of demoting anabolic steroids to the category of controlled substances) the U.S congress had solicited opinions from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the American Medical Association, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Food and Drug Administration. None of these agencies wanted anabolic steroids to be classified as controlled substances. Their argument was that the use of anabolic steroids did not cause psychological and physical dependence that was a pre-condition for scheduling them as controlled substances.
Congress chose to disregard the opposition by these agencies and eventually brought anabolic steroids under the Controlled Substances Act (Schedule III). Stringent controls were also put into place, with harsher criminal penalties for the illegal distribution of anabolic steroids. Faced with dwindling sales (anabolic steroids could only be prescribed for medical use), many pharma companies stopped their production. Athletes and body builders could no longer procure them legally to enhance their performance and physique. In their desperation, they found other ways to procure them. This black market in anabolic steroids is another factor which may have contributed to the negative publicity that anabolic steroids are receiving.
Dr. Charles Yesalis, one of the world’s foremost experts on the use of anabolic steroids says that media reports about anabolic steroids are shoddy. He does not deny that there are anabolic steroids that can induce rage in their users, but then these users constitute only a small percentage.
He also said that the media was reporting on such isolated incidents. He further says that the shoddy reporting has meant that the average person has come to associate steroid use with Testosterone and Human Growth Hormone only, because these are the ones that the media usually talks about. He signed off by saying that the media’s portrayal suggests that there might be something more to the stories, pointing to hidden agendas.
To conclude, roid rage can be considered an extremely misunderstood situation which has been blown out of proportion by the media over the years. Studies by various reputable agencies have given us the cold hard facts in a platter that the concept of roid rage was built up to demean the usage of steroids as a whole. Research has shown time and again that roid rage is only likely in those individuals who already have a proven history of mental issues to deal with and roid rage should not be linked with each and every steroid user. Individuals who have anger problems should understand that finally they have personal responsibility for the use of anabolic steroids. If they have such problems, it is better if they refrain from using anabolic steroids. If they still choose to go ahead, they should keep a strict watch over their emotions, thoughts, and impulses when they engage in steroid use.
Scores of steroid users out there have never been booked for any criminal offence and hence it is also important that no criminal be let go citing roid rage as an excuse. In an ending note, the responsible use of anabolic steroids not only includes adhering to moderate and sensible doses and steroid cycle lengths, but also excising self control and knowing when the individual can use anabolic steroids and when they should not use them.