The Effects of Anabolic Steroids on the Brain and Its Potential for Addiction
The testosterone, which is a hormone that is present in both the guys and the ladies, has an artificial version. This is known as anabolic steroids. Testosterone brings out the sexual traits of the males, as well as increases the mass of their muscles. There are some athletes that take in anabolic steroids orally or through injections because they want to develop more muscles rapidly. Hence, anabolic steroids imply that they build or increase. While there are steroid users that are aware of the negative effects of the drug to their brain and body, they do not know that this can lead to possible addiction.
A study was conducted to determine whether there is a potential for anabolic steroids addiction. The test was performed on hamsters that are exposed to common steroidal compounds. After some time, the subjects exhibited addictive behavior. This research was conducted by the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Their findings were released at the annual conference of ACNP or American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
According to Ruth Wood, PhD, who is the lead researcher of the study, a lot of people take in anabolic steroids. People do this because they want to improve their performance. However, these individuals deny that taking in steroids can be addictive. Steroids are not like common abused drugs. Instead of making the users high, they develop muscle mass and enhance performance. It is hard to distinguish an anabolic steroid’s addictive properties. The goal of the study is to design the experimental reproduction of steroid addiction, wherein physical performance and other motivational effects are not relevant.
The study uses hamsters implanted with tiny cannulas, which is where the steroids are self-administered into the brain. The subjects spend four hours each day within a chamber that has access to two delivery mechanisms. If the hamster operates the first mechanism (active), it receives a microgram of one of the following: oxymetholone, dianabol, drostanolone, and nandrolone. On the other hand, the second mechanism (inactive) does not produce any responses. A computer gathers the data regarding the times each subject uses each delivery mechanism. All in all, the hamsters demonstrated a preference for the first mechanism. Because of this, the researchers have been able to determine that there is a potential for anabolic steroids addiction. This is probably due to the effect that steroids offer.
Wood also stated that mental health professionals and psychiatrists should learn more about the finding of the study. This is because steroids have negative effects to the brain. Anabolic steroids affect the limbic system of the user. This is the part of the brain that involves memory and learning and influences the moods. A study on animals revealed that steroids impair memory and learning. What is more, they can result to mood changes making the user irritable and depressed. They may also become mean to people whom they used to be pleasant to. What is more, the drugs trigger a part in the brain that controls aggression. When the outbursts get severe, they are called “roid rages”.