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Pharmacotherapy. 2012 Oct;32(10):910-9. doi: 10.1002/j.1875-9114.2012.01123.

Psychological and physical impact of anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence.

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Department of Pharmacy Practice, Touro University California College of Pharmacy, Vallejo, California 94592, USA.



To contrast the characteristics of two groups of anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) users-those with versus those without AAS dependence.


Subanalysis of data from the Anabolic 500, a cross-sectional survey.


One hundred twelve male AAS-dependent users and 367 AAS-nondependent users who completed an online survey between February 19 and June 30, 2009.


Respondents were recruited from the Internet discussion boards of 38 fitness, bodybuilding, weightlifting, and steroid Web sites. The respondents provided online informed consent and completed the Anabolic 500, a 99-item Web-based survey. Self-reported data included demographics, exercise patterns, use of AAS and other performance-enhancing agents, adverse effects of AAS use, behavior consistent with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) criteria for AAS dependence, history of illicit drug and alcohol use, history of sexual or physical abuse, and psychiatric conditions diagnosed according to the DSM-IV-TR. Behavior consistent with AAS dependence was identified in 23.4% of the survey participants. These AAS-dependent users were more excessive in their AAS use (e.g., higher doses, higher quantity of agents, longer duration of use), more likely to report a history of illicit heroin use in the last 12 months (5.4% vs 1.9%, p=0.049), and more likely to report a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder (16.1 vs 8.4%, p=0.020) or major depressive disorder (15.2% vs 7.4%, p=0.012) than AAS-nondependent users.


Data from the Anabolic 500 survey showed that almost one quarter of AAS users were dependent on these drugs. These AAS-dependent users had a higher rate of heroin use as well as anxiety and major depressive disorders compared with AAS-nondependent users. These findings can help clinicians and researchers better understand and address the potential illicit drug use and psychiatric comorbidities that may be present among AAS-dependent users.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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