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This article reviews both human and nonhuman primate research dealing with the social psychobiologic effects of anabolic/androgenic steroids (AS). Descriptive research and anecdotal reports within the realm of sport suggest that AS may have a variety of psychological and behavioral effects including psychotic episodes and increased aggression. Recent investigations with a nonhuman primate model confirm that the effects of AS on psychological states and overt behavior can be quite varied, ranging from those that can be characterized as active (e.g., mania and aggression) to more passive states (e.g., depression and social withdrawal). There are also profound physiological effects of a biobehavioral origin that constitute a risk for cardiovascular disease. The most striking aspect of AS is that the effects of this drug are due to an interaction between its pharmacologic properties and the social milieu.
This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Health (HL 40497-01). The authors are with the Department of Health & Sport Science, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27109. Request reprints from W. Jack Rejeski.