Does steroid use lead to aggressive tendencies?

The recent shootings carried out by fugitive Raoul Moat in Northumbria, UK highlight the growing belief that steroid use may be linked to aggressive outbursts. With some 250,000 people using steroids in the UK alone, how likely is it that they pose a threat to society?

The media have reported that Moat was addicted to the effects of steroids, particularly for body building purposes. But how large a part did they play in provoking his angry and jealous outbursts (a state dubbed as “roid rage”) and to what extent could they have catalyzed an altered emotional state tailored towards such extreme "vengeance"?

Several articles explore this purported link and may shed light on Moat’s own claims of the damage done by broken homes and disturbing thoughts:

In 2007, Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy (SATPP), reported a study of 34 anabolic steroid (AS) abusers which explored the link between steroid addiction and social background/current situation with the conclusion that AS users are often from disadvantaged family backgrounds and that they also live their adult lives in difficult social situations.

In a later article, SATPP reported on six cases of individuals who believed they were experiencing steroid related problems. Mood swings, psychological problems, extreme jealousy and even inflicton of animal cruelty are reported as negative side effects across these six interviews.

For general information on the different physical mechanisms and effects of performance enhancing drugs in amateur and professional adolescents, please read Alan Rogol’s review article published in Italian Journal of Pediatrics.

The ergogenic effects of steroids are not only highly desirable to competitive body builders, but also appeal to non-athletes interested in potential cosmetic enhancement. Yet, the disturbing evidence is that significant psychiatric symptoms may well manifest in long term users, justifying current apprehension levels.

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