What Is Roid Rage?
In the 1980s, when the abuse of androgenic steroids was on the sharp rise, a series of violent crimes committed by bodybuilders took the spotlight. It led to speculations that steroid abuse turns bodybuilders into ticking bombs ready to explode at the slightest trigger.
What is roid rage? Does it really turn healthy sportspersons into violent beasts? What do medical studies say? These are the questions that we shall explore in detail.
Some high-profile crimes
In 1993, when Gordon Kimbrough, a bodybuilder, killed his girlfriend, his lawyer tried to use roid rage as a defense, but it failed. Judges convicted Gordon of first-degree murder.
Another high profile murder happened in 2007 when professional wrestler Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son and later committed suicide.
Authorities found anabolic steroids in his home, which spurred suspicions of roid rage in this case too. If you browse through the records of crimes committed by bodybuilders and athletes, you will find lots and lots of them.
What studies say
Such crimes do not figure as psychotic episodes due to steroid abuse but rather a conscious decision. When Swedish scientists studied over 10,000 males who were steroid users, they found that poly-substance users were more prone to violence than those using steroids alone.
What, then, is roid rage?
Androgenic steroids function like testosterone, and they can cause aggression and irritability in any user. Roid rage is now seen more like a short episode of a loss of control over one’s impulse.
It makes long term steroid users overreact in situations where they usually wouldn’t. Individual reactions to steroids differ. They display a spectrum of behaviors ranging from harsh assertiveness to extreme rage.
While aggressiveness and irritability due to steroid abuse are real, researchers are yet to agree that roid rage is real. There aren’t enough studies to agree or conclude that roid rage causes uncontrollable fury. And bodybuilders cannot blame steroids for their crimes, including murder.
Like many other drugs, exposure to steroids can uncover underlying psychiatric disorders that have not shown symptoms yet. Studies link the use of steroids to mood disturbances, psychosis, mania, and depression, among many.
People using steroids for a long time in high doses are more vulnerable to emotional outbursts.
Steroid abuse and health
Testosterone is the most widely abused androgenic steroid. A typical male would generally produce about 75 milligrams of testosterone per week.
While studies indicate an increase in aggression even at 600 milligrams per week, there are cases where athletes take up to 5000 milligrams per week.
Synthetic or designer steroids form a more dangerous class that destroys users. Andro, Human Growth Hormone, and erythropoietin are other drugs that athletes use to enhance performance and build muscles.
Apart from disrupting mental health, injecting dangerous steroid levels puts users at high risk of physical illness. Liver damage, risk of heart attacks, bodily contortions, prostate cancer, acne, and baldness are some side effects.
The need for awareness
With the obsession for muscular bodies, steroid abuse is getting more widespread even among teenagers who are not athletes. Gary Wadler from WebMD suggests four signs that parents of young boys and athletes should watch out for.
Those are muscle structure changes, excessive acne, increased irritability, and obsession with muscle mass or the gym. Excessively poring through bodybuilding websites and supplements could also signal unhealthy obsession and consideration for steroid use.
Estimates say that about a million youngsters have used anabolic steroids, and the internet has made access to these drugs easier, which raises the alarm even more.
Bodybuilding and negative image
Bodybuilding is such a competitive sport, and the obsession for ripped muscles and toned body is widespread.
Abuse of steroids among bodybuilders is so common that despite doping tests, a majority of them still use it for competitions. Generally, in the bodybuilding world, one cannot be competitive without using steroids. High crimes and violence rate only adds to the negative image of bodybuilders and bodybuilding as a sport.
However, there are many bodybuilders out there who train hard and discipline themselves to achieve their goals. They can balance training, diet, and supplements, lead a healthy lifestyle, and prioritize mental and physical wellbeing. We cannot brand all bodybuilders as threats to society: that would be unfair.
What you do with your body is your choice
We cannot blame violence and crimes on steroids, and neither do studies back that up. Like any other drugs, Steroids can be used positively for health benefits or abused, causing disasters. Every individual holds the key to personal choice, and steroids are another set of tools that many have abused to further individual aspirations. Each one is accountable for what one does to one’s body.
Roid rage: myth or reality?
Whether roid rage is a myth or reality remains unanswered. However, given strong evidence of a link between violence and steroids, the topic certainly deserves more research and medical studies.
Unfortunately, the answer doesn’t seem to be on the horizon anytime soon, but bodybuilders and sportspersons can take precautions to avoid pushing themselves to levels beyond redemption.
It may not be possible for all to achieve an Arnold Schwarzenegger look, but they can indeed aim to obtain an aesthetically-pleasing physique in healthier ways.
After all the hard work that bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts put into bodybuilding, they deserve better than warped bodies, physical illnesses, and mental issues.