Symptoms and correlates of anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence

Br J Addict. 1991 Jun;86(6):759-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.1991.tb03101.x.


Forty-nine male weight lifters, all users of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AASs), completed an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire to investigate addictive patterns of use. At least one DSM-III-R symptom of dependence was reported by 94% of the sample. Three or more symptoms, consistent with a diagnosis of dependence, were reported by 57%. Dependent users (n = 28) could be distinguished from non-dependent users (n = 21) by their use of larger doses, more cycles of use, more dissatisfaction with body size, and more aggressive symptoms. Multiple regression analysis revealed that dosage and dissatisfaction with body size were the best predictors of dependent use. Patterns of other substances used, although not predictive of AAS dependence, revealed very low cigarette use and at the same time high alcohol consumption. These data support the notion that AASs are addicting, and suggest that dissatisfaction with body size may lead to dependent patterns of use. The implications for both prevention and treatment are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anabolic Agents*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Michigan
  • Physical Fitness
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Testosterone* / analogs & derivatives
  • Weight Lifting*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Testosterone