Steroids and Violence
When we think of anabolic steroids, most of us think about the physical effects that result from using these drugs. For example:
- shrinking testicles
- decreased sperm count
- development of breasts
- increased risk for prostate cancer
- growth of facial hair or excess body hair
- decreased breast size
- male-pattern baldness
- changes in or stop in the menstrual cycle
- enlarged clitoris
- deepened voice
- stunted growth (when high hormone levels from steroids signal to the body to stop bone growth too early)
- stunted height (if teens use steroids before their growth spurt)
What is often forgotten are the psychological/emotional side effects of anabolic steroids. Remember, anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone. And, when a user injects or ingests these drugs, a number of psychological side effects can result, for example:
- paranoia (extreme, unreasonable)
- extreme irritability and aggression (“roid rage”)
- delusions—false beliefs or ideas
- impaired judgment
In the weeks before Taylor committed suicide, we saw many of these side effects. But, the side effect that we saw the most was what is commonly referred to as “Roid Rage”. It was this side effect that concerned us the most and that first drove us to take him to the doctor(s) to have him evaluated, to see what might be causing this rage.
Taylor was a calm, cool, and responsible young man. He always had a good head on his shoulders and was ALWAYS respectful of his Mom and me. However, all that changed after he began using anabolic steroids.
- He began to fly off the handle at the least bit of stimulation. For example, when his Mom would tell him at 11PM that “it’s time to get off the PC and out of the chat rooms and go to bed”, he (on multiple occasions) would slam his fist onto the desk top and curse at his Mom and storm out of the office and go to his bedroom. Then, 10-15 minutes later, he’d come back downstairs and with tears in his eyes, apologize for his behavior, promising that it would never happen again.
- In one fit of rage, Taylor drove his right hand (his pitching hand) through a sheet rock wall. Fearing that his knuckles might be broken, we took him to see an orthopedic surgeon to have his badly bruised hand checked out.
- Taylor began carrying a baseball bat in his truck. We later learned that he was carrying it for aggressive reasons. On one fateful night, Taylor was with his buds in the parking lot of a local fast food joint. He got in a fight with one of his girlfriend’s previous boyfriends. Before they were pulled apart, Taylor had broken the young man’s jaw and sent him to the hospital.
I could go on, but suffice it to say that this was NOT the way Taylor was raised and this behavior was in stark contrast to the way he had behaved for the 16 years leading up to these episodes. Many doctors have confirmed that Roid Rage is real, and that anabolic steroids can be a catalyst for this kind of behavior.
As we as a society look at this drug problem, we should ask ourselves if it could be possible that recent trends in violent behavior might be related to the rise in the use of anabolic steroids? As you read stories in the news about violent situations, begin to notice how many of these cases involve men that are known users of anabolic steroids. I think many of you will be surprised at how frequently anabolic steroid use is mentioned in these stories.
All of us at THF are committed to driving this awareness across society in the hope that we can all better understand the impacts that anabolic steroids can have on our country. And, that armed with this knowledge, we can all work together to end this scourge.