Roid Rage Explained


Even if you haven’t ever used a performance-enhancing substance, anabolic steroid, or even spent really all that much time inside of a gym you’ve likely heard about “roid rage”.

The media specifically loves to talk about roid rage, an almost animallike state that most people attribute to uncontrollable aggression, wild behavior, and unstable and predictable actions to – even if the link between anabolic steroids and this kind of behavior is tenuous at best.

Unfortunately, this kind of salacious propaganda moves a lot more magazines, sells a lot more newspapers, and gets a lot more clicks online than the “straight dope” – the fact that the overwhelming majority of drugs (performance-enhancing and otherwise) are relatively safe and aren’t going to turn you into some Hulk like creature overnight.

How the Idea of “Roid Rage” Started

Straight out of the gate, it’s important for everyone to understand that the whole concept of “roid rage” is not in any way, shape, or form a legitimate medical indication, diagnosis, or is this terminology found anywhere in medical terminology or lexicon.

Roid rage is a slang term through and through, and while it has been used so often that it has become a part of our everyday vernacular and vocabulary the truth of the matter is that sometimes media outlets and other “experts” use it in a way that gives it a lot more authority than it probably should have.

It should also be mentioned that this slang was cooked up by a media that didn’t understand – and continues to remain ignorant – about the realities of anabolic steroids, synthetic forms of testosterone, and what these performance-enhancing drugs really do to the human body at a biological and biochemical level.

The reason that this term feels so snappy is because it was conceived up to be exactly that – an eye-catching term that isn’t all that married to the reality of what steroids do, how they impact aggression levels, and the fact that the medical and science communities agree that there is little to no link between steroid use and increases in impulsive violence or uncontrollable anger.

The Unvarnished Reality of Roid Rage

To put it bluntly, the reality of roid rage is that it is nothing more than an urban myth.

Sure, there are scores of anecdotal stories about overbuilt gym rats running gear and eventually blowing their lead right off the top, going on a rampage or exhibiting unpredictable behavior. We’ve all heard those stories, see no stories in the news, and have heard secondhand from someone that knows someone that might know somebody else that had a roid rage explosion.

But as we highlighted above, modern medicine and science have not been able to conclusively determine any link between anabolic steroid usage, exogenous testosterone, and the behavior that is so often linked to roid rage.

Sure, testosterone (as well as other associated androgenic compounds) inevitably act on both the amygdala and the hypothalamus – two parts of the brain that share some responsibility in controlling aggression – and also has an impact on the orbitofrontal cortex (part of the brain responsible for governing impulse control).

But study after study looking into whether or not there’s any legitimacy to roid rage shows that while people using anabolic steroids do see an uptick in confidence, and assertiveness, and in ambition as well as aggression there is no link that suggests anabolic steroids also cause rage, violence, and to uncontrollable behavior.

In fact, in a variety of different studies where anabolic steroids were used as part of a Testosterone Replacement Therapy protocol the individuals participating in these tests were found to have improved mood, improved energy, and a generally much more positive outlook than they had before. 

This seems to fly in the face of what the media peddling “roid rage” would love you to believe.