Updated on February 6, 2024
4 min read

Roid Rage: When Steroids Lead to Violent Aggression

Key Takeaways

Roid rage is a symptom of anabolic steroid use, which refers to outbursts of anger or violence.

People who experience roid rage may engage in irresponsible behavior, making them potentially dangerous towards themselves and other people.9

Uncontrollable rage and severely violent acts can land someone in legal trouble. Steroid use without a prescription from a doctor is illegal and unsafe. Most of the people who misuse steroids are male weightlifters in their 20s and 30s.2 

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What is Roid Rage?
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What Are Anabolic Steroids?

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 take anabolic steroids to gain muscle or as performance-enhancing drugs. Sometimes, they take doses that are higher than doctors would typically prescribe, leading to misuse.2


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Do Steroids Really Make You Angry?

There are different types of steroids, and 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, which controls your mood. So, long-term steroid use can cause mood swings.

The testosterone in these steroids can also contribute to various emotions that can trigger roid rages. These include:2

  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Jealousy
  • Irritation

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Side Effects of Anabolic Steroids

Increased aggression, impulse control problems, and dangerous behavior aren't the only side effects of these steroids. Taking anabolic steroids can also cause various unpleasant side effects.

Abusing steroids can result in the following side effects:1

  • Acne
  • Oily skin
  • Yellowing skin
  • Bloating from water retention
  • Joint pain
  • Liver damage
  • Infection

You should only take anabolic steroids under the supervision of licensed medical professionals. This can help you avoid experiencing any serious side effects from using anabolic steroids.

Long-Term Risks of Steroid Use

There are also long-term risks of abusing anabolic steroids. These include:1, 10

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

However, it's important to know that you can experience specific side effects depending on your gender. These include:

Side Effects of Steroid Use on Men

Men may experience the following side effects:1, 10

  • Breast development
  • Shrunken testicles
  • Low sperm count
  • Infertility
  • Baldness
  • Prostate cancer

Side Effects of Steroid Use on Women

Women may experience the following side effects:1, 10

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

Are Anabolic Steroids Addictive?

Yes, it is possible to develop an addiction to anabolic steroids. Researchers say that about 32 percent of people who misuse anabolic steroids become dependent.13

Your tolerance to steroids can also increase after misusing them. This means you'll need higher and more frequent doses to achieve the same effects.13

You won't experience "highs" from abusing anabolic steroids, unlike other drugs.1,4 However, you can still experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking anabolic steroids.1

Symptoms of Steroid Withdrawal

You can experience withdrawal symptoms because of the hormonal imbalance caused by abusing steroids. These withdrawal symptoms result from low levels of natural testosterone in the body.

Steroid withdrawal symptoms include:

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

These symptoms will persist until your body can restore its normal testosterone production.

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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, a nutritionist, or both: These professionals will be able to provide a workout and/or meal plan to help you 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 performance5
  • Try natural herbs: Ashwagandha withania somnifera (also known as ashwagandha) has been proven to increase strength12
  • Dietary supplements and vitamins: Vitamins and supplements can help build muscle mass and strength; some examples include vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium5, 6, 7, 8

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

Treatment for Steroid Abuse

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

Some examples include:


A violent burst of anger and aggression caused by anabolic steroid use is called "roid rage". This can lead to irresponsible and dangerous behavior.

Athletes may start taking steroids to improve athletic performance and increase muscle mass. Anabolic steroids are also linked to long-term side effects that can lead to medical complications.

Although they don't produce feelings of euphoria like other drugs, you can develop an addiction to anabolic steroids. Because of this, you should only take steroids under a licensed medical professional.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
13 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Abuse, National Institute on Drug. “Steroids, Anabolic.” NIDA for Teens, 2021.
  2. Anabolic Steroids Drugfacts.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2022.
  3. Anabolic Steroids.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2021.
  4. Anabolic Steroid Misuse.” NHS Choices, NHS.
  5. Córdova et al. “Impact of Magnesium Supplementation in Muscle Damage of Professional Cyclists Competing in a Stage Race.” Nutrients, MDPI, 2019. 
  6. Hassan-Smith 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, 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, 2020.
  10. What Are the Side Effects of Anabolic Steroid Misuse?National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2021.
  11. Wood et al. “'Roid Rage in Rats? Testosterone Effects on Aggressive Motivation, Impulsivity and Tyrosine Hydroxylase.” Physiology & Behavior, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2013.
  12. Ziegenfuss et al. “Effects of an Aqueous Extract of Withania Somnifera on Strength Training Adaptations and Recovery: The Star Trial.” Nutrients, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  13. NIDA. "Are anabolic steroids addictive?." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2023.

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