A forensic approach for anabolic-androgenic steroid use in the mitigation of criminal behavior

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The use of anabolic steroids to enhance sports performance has been recognized for many years. The positive effect of these agents on the muscle development and physical endurance of professional athletes has been widely publicized, but these substances also have many negative side effects. They can cause individuals to become moody, aggressive, self-centered, and irritable, to the extent that their personalities are altered. This article reviews some of the negative effects of anabolic steroids, particularly as they relate to mental status and behavior such that a "normal" individual who uses these substances would even commit a crime. Three cases are reviewed in which the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids was associated with crimes after the individual's behavior was noted to be "aberrant," and egodystonic. These individuals were historically not sociopaths, their criminal behavior was unexpected, and was described as out of character by their family and friends. Their use of these agents on a regular basis coincided with dramatic personality changes. Strikingly, their personalities reverted back to their premorbid style after they were off steroids, despite the associated stress of their legal situations. In each case, the attorneys used the individual's steroid use to explain what happened, and then focused on it in an effort to mitigate sentencing. It is hoped that the information provided about the effects of anabolic steroids, combined with the case histories presented, will help others as they deal with similar situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-36
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Forensic Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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