November 21, 2003
Steroid Use May Increase Aggressiveness Long Term

Anabolic steroid use may cause permanent changes in personality and behavior.

(11-20-03) BOSTON, Mass. – With the recent revelations about steroid use in Major League Baseball and the bust last week of several Oakland Raiders players for drug abuse, Northeastern University psychology professor Richard Melloni, who studies the link between steroid use and aggression, has recently found evidence that use of anabolic steroids may have long-term effects on players’ behavior and aggression levels well after they stop abusing these performance enhancing drugs.

With funding from the NIH (recently extended through 2008), Melloni and doctoral student Jill Grimes have been studying how steroids used during adolescence may permanently alter the brain's ability to produce serotonin. In their experiments, adolescent Syrian hamsters - given their similar brain circuitry to human adolescents – were administered doses of anabolic steroids and then measured for aggressiveness over certain periods of time.

The researchers initially hypothesized that steroid use during adolescence might permanently alter the brain's chemistry and a person's tendency toward aggression long after use has stopped. Their most recent findings, published this week in Hormones and Behavior, enabled them to confirm this hypothesis and conclude that there is indeed a lengthy price – namely long-term aggression – to pay for drug abuse even after the ingestion of steroids ceases. “We know testosterone or steroids affect the development of serotonin nerve cells, which, in turn, decreases serotonin availability in the brain,” Melloni says. “The serotonin neural system is still developing during adolescence and the use of anabolic steroids during this critical period appears to have immediate and longer-term neural and behavioral consequences. What we know at this point is that aggressiveness doesn’t simply cease after the ingestion of steroids does.”

Based on this research, Melloni also believes that athletes who abuse steroids may also be inclined toward aggressive behavior long after their drug abuse – and musculature – have waned.

The press release doesn't detail their findings unfortunately. But the claims here are at least plausible. See my previous posts on reports about drugs and environmental influences causing changes to brain development: Drugs And Stress Have Variety Of Effects On Brain Development and Adolescence Is Tough On The Brain.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 November 21 01:20 PM  Brain Development

Grady said at December 1, 2003 8:35 AM:

This study sounds like he's trying to take a developmental effects and imply the same thing would happen in an adult. This is what gripes me about psychologists trying to get into the molecular field - they overgeneralize. In classical behavioral studies, a certain amount of generalization and statistical manipulation is required because of the inherent noise in behavioral experiments. In molecular biology, however, you can get cleaner data. You can quantify things without resort to a subjective rating scale. Lower serotonin levels have been linked to aggression, so if that's what you're trying to show, show it. Do immunohistochemistry for serotonin producing neurons in treated and untreated animals, and in juveniles and adults. I'd expect a rat or mouse antibody to a cell surface marker would be worth trying in hamsters. So the tools are there to quantify that sort of thing. I'm not even going to get into the argument about whether hamsters and people behave similarly. There's a lot of behavioral neuroscience finding for drug abuse studies, so I must congratulate him on successfully pushing a hot-button issue in a bid for some of it. However, there's been an awful lot of really crappy NIDA funded research in recent years, making me wonder if the grant recipients feel like they have to show kind of "drugs are bad" findings in order to keep the money coming.

Fiddy said at October 11, 2005 8:31 PM:

Im hooked on this steriod shit and im killing all these people in fights i love it i can tool anywon but my dick is sooo small.The gurls love the muscles tho so w/e .
anyways this shit is the best try it MIT steriods
gained 15 lb in 1 1/5 monthes and im cutt like a pro

Anonymous said at December 10, 2009 5:48 PM:

Men on steriods that are over 40 have major emotional issues.

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