, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp 377-387

Anabolic steroid abuse and dependence

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Abstract

Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are mainly used to treat androgen deficiency syndromes and, more recently, catabolic states such as AIDS-associated wasting. There is no evidence in the reviewed literature that AAS abuse or dependence develops from the therapeutic use of AAS. Conversely, 165 instances of AAS dependence have been reported among weightlifters and bodybuilders who, as part of their weight training regimens, chronically administered supraphysiologic doses, often including combinations of injected and oral AAS as well as other drugs of abuse. A new model is proposed in which both the "myoactive" and psychoactive effects of AAS contribute to the development of AAS dependence. The adverse consequences of AAS are reviewed, as well as their assessment by means of a history and physical, mental status examination, and laboratory testing. When patients with AAS use disorders are compared with patients with other substance use disorders, both similarities and differences become apparent and have implications for treatment.