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Updated on August 24, 2022

What is Roid Rage?

Roid rage is a symptom of anabolic steroid use. It refers to outbursts of anger and aggression or violence.

An anabolic steroid is a type of medication that treats problems with male sex hormones. Doctors prescribe them to treat issues like delayed puberty and muscle loss from certain diseases.3 

Some bodybuilders and athletes consider taking anabolic steroids to gain muscle and enhance their athletic performance. Sometimes, they take doses that are higher than doctors would typically prescribe.2

The majority of people who misuse steroids are male weightlifters in their 20s and 30s.2

Steroid use without a prescription from a doctor is illegal and unsafe. Roid rage is not only dangerous for the user, but it is also dangerous for the people around them. 

People who experience roid rage may engage in irresponsible behaviors that put themselves in danger. They may also become aggressive and violent toward their friends, family, and other people in their lives.9

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Do Steroids Really Make You Angry?

There are different types of steroids. Anger is not a side effect of all of them. However, anger is a possible side effect of anabolic steroid misuse.11

These steroids affect the limbic system in the brain. This system controls your mood. So, long-term steroid use can cause mood swings. The testosterone in these steroids can also contribute to feelings of depression, paranoia, jealousy, and irritation that can trigger “roid rages.”2

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Side Effects of Anabolic Steroids

Increased aggression and dangerous behavior are not the only side effects of these steroids. Not everyone has such a severe reaction. 

Misusing these steroids can also cause the following side effects:1

  • Acne
  • Oily skin
  • Yellowing skin
  • Bloating from water retention
  • Infection

Some people are also able to build muscle and improve their athletic performances. These are reasons why many athletes misuse the drug in the first place.

Long-Term Risks of Steroid Use

There are also long-term risks of abusing steroids, including:1, 10

  • Stunted growth (for teens)
  • Stunted height (for teens)
  • High blood pressure or changes in blood cholesterol
  • Enlarged heart
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney failure

Males might also experience:1, 10

  • Breast tissue growth
  • Shrinking testicles
  • Low sperm count
  • Infertility
  • Baldness
  • Prostate cancer

Meanwhile, females might experience:1, 10

  • Deepening voice
  • Facial hair growth
  • Changes to the menstrual cycle
  • Stopped period
  • Enlarged clitoris

For some people, certain steroids can become addictive. However, the addiction from anabolic steroid misuse is different from addictions to other drugs.1, 4

People who misuse these steroids do not experience “highs'' like they would with other drugs. However, they may still experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop anabolic steroids.1

Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Changes to sleep patterns
  • Appetite changes
  • A desire to take more steroids

Uncontrollable rage and severely violent acts can also land someone in legal trouble.

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Healthy Alternatives to Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are considered dangerous if they’re not taken as prescribed by a doctor to treat specific medical conditions

If you are curious about taking steroids for muscle growth or athletic performance, consider these options instead:

  • Work with a trainer or nutritionist (or both) to start a workout and/or meal plan and help you set and achieve your fitness goals.
  • Consider a natural alternative. Creatine is a natural alternative to steroids that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved for athletic performance. It has been approved for short-term use in healthy adults who are over 18 years old.5
  • Try natural herbs like ashwagandha withania somnifera (also known as ashwagandha). This medicine has been proven to increase strength.12
  • Take vitamins and supplements like Vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium. These are all linked to muscle mass and strength and can help the muscles repair themselves.5, 6, 7, 8

Only try these methods if your doctor has approved them. Keep in mind that some supplements may interact with certain medications, so always check with your doctor before taking any.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse or addiction, including steroid misuse, help is available. Consult your doctor about addiction treatment options like rehabilitation centers and support groups near you.

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Resources

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  1. Abuse, National Institute on Drug. “Steroids, Anabolic.” NIDA for Teens, 9 Dec. 2021.
  2. Anabolic Steroids Drugfacts.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 22 Mar. 2022.
  3. Anabolic Steroids.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2 June 2021.
  4. Anabolic Steroid Misuse.” NHS Choices, NHS.
  5. Córdova, Alfredo, et al. “Impact of Magnesium Supplementation in Muscle Damage of Professional Cyclists Competing in a Stage Race.” Nutrients, MDPI, 16 Aug. 2019. 
  6. Hassan-Smith, Zaki K., et al. “25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 and 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 Exert Distinct Effects on Human Skeletal Muscle Function and Gene Expression.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science. 
  7. Minerals and Sarcopenia; The Role of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, and Zinc on Muscle Mass, Muscle Strength, and Physical Performance in Older Adults: A Systematic Review.”JAMDA. 1 Jan. 2018.
  8. Office of Dietary Supplements - Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
  9. Understanding the Risks of Performance-Enhancing Drugs.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 4 Dec. 2020.
  10. What Are the Side Effects of Anabolic Steroid Misuse?National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 12 Apr. 2021.
  11. Wood, Ruth I, et al. “'Roid Rage in Rats? Testosterone Effects on Aggressive Motivation, Impulsivity and Tyrosine Hydroxylase.” Physiology & Behavior, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 17 Feb. 2013.
  12. Ziegenfuss TN;Kedia AW;Sandrock JE;Raub BJ;Kerksick CM;Lopez HL; “Effects of an Aqueous Extract of Withania Somnifera on Strength Training Adaptations and Recovery: The Star Trial.” Nutrients, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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