With the recent news that Chris Beloit was on anabolic steroids at the time he strangled his wife and son, questions have been raised concerning the side effects of anabolic steroid use. Could violence and even murder be potential side effects of anabolic steroid use?
Upon reviewing the medical literature on anabolic steroid use, I found references suggesting that anabolic steroids can cause a variety of side effects including psychiatric disturbances and behavioral changes including aggression, irritability, rage, hostility, and disturbing antisocial behaviors. Sometimes the violence is directed towards the anabolic steroid user’s family, particularly their wives and girlfriends, which can have devastating consequences, as in the case of the family of Chris Beloit.
A study carried out by the Department of Psychology at the University of Nottingham in England showed substantial evidence that aggressive behavior is associated with anabolic steroid use. When the “significant other” of steroid users and nonusers was questioned about their recent relationship, the significant others of the anabolic steroid users reported more instances of verbal and physical aggression than did those of nonusers.Thus, the anabolic steroid user not only endangers himself with anabolic steroid use, but may also endanger the lives of others, including those closest to him.
There are reports in the literature of anabolic steroid users committing armed robbery shoplifting, destroying property, as well as numerous other crimes while under the influence of steroids. Do anabolic steroids have a direct effect on the incidence of violent and antisocial behavior or is the anabolic steroid user using this as an excuse to commit crimes? It’s an intriguing question!
One study was carried out where a group of volunteers were given either anabolic steroids or a placebo with no activity. Neither group was aware of who got which medication. The group who received the anabolic steroid in many, but not all cases, reported feelings of aggression and anger. The possible conclusion was that some, but not all, anabolic steroids increase aggressive tendencies.
Anabolic steroid use can also have other side effects including changes in memory, feelings of invincibility and euphoria, and sexual arousal. Plus, anabolic steroids appear to have addictive properties. Withdrawal from anabolic steroids can lead to serious side effects including severe depression with suicidal tendencies.
In Chris Beloit’s case, the question remains. Did he kill his family and hang himself because of the so called “roid rage” which is a fancy name for anabolic steroid violence or did he have violent tendencies prior to starting anabolic steroids? Toxicology studies are pending which should show what levels of anabolic steroids were in his body at the time of the murders.
Maybe we’ll never know if anabolic steroid side effects led Chris Beloit to murder, but further studies are needed to determine the role that anabolic steroid use plays in violent behavior.