Behavioural manifestations of anabolic steroid use

CNS Drugs. 2005;19(7):571-95. doi: 10.2165/00023210-200519070-00002.


The use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) for gains in strength and muscle mass is relatively common among certain subpopulations, including athletes, bodybuilders, adolescents and young adults. Adverse physical effects associated with steroid abuse are well documented, but more recently, increased attention has been given to the adverse psychiatric effects of these compounds. Steroids may be used in oral, 17alpha-alkylated, or intramuscular, 17beta-esterified, preparations. Commonly, steroid users employ these agents at levels 10- to 100-fold in excess of therapeutic doses and use multiple steroids simultaneously, a practice known as 'stacking'. Significant psychiatric symptoms including aggression and violence, mania, and less frequently psychosis and suicide have been associated with steroid abuse. Long-term steroid abusers may develop symptoms of dependence and withdrawal on discontinuation of AAS. Treatment of AAS abusers should address both acute physical and behavioural symptoms as well as long-term abstinence and recovery. To date, limited information is available regarding specific pharmacological treatments for individuals recovering from steroid abuse. This paper reviews the published literature concerning the recognition and treatment of behavioural manifestations of AAS abuse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affective Disorders, Psychotic / chemically induced
  • Affective Disorders, Psychotic / physiopathology
  • Aggression / drug effects
  • Anabolic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Psychometrics
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*


  • Anabolic Agents