Running Head: Psychological Dependency to Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids: Exploring the Role of Social Mediation
Tracy W. Olrich & Mario J. Vassalo
A 1990 survey of adolescent Androgenic-Anabolic Steroid (“AAS”) users (N=226) by Yesalis, Streit, Vicary, Friedl, Brannon, and Buckley suggested the possibility of a psychological dependency to AAS. Brower has hypothesized that the mechanisms leading to dependence on AAS include both primary reinforcers from brain reward systems and secondary reinforcers including increased self-esteem, social reinforcement, and muscle mass. The article summarizes the findings of two studies investigating the nature of a possible psychological dependence to AAS from the responses of males who had used AAS. The studies consisted of in-depth interviews with males (N=49) who had used AAS. The men were queried if they believed AAS caused a psychological dependence. All of the men responded strongly in the affirmative. The men were then asked to elaborate the manner in which they believed AAS caused dependence. The answers provided gave tremendous insight into the nature of psychological dependence to AAS. At the time of the interview, thirty-eight had ceased using AAS. The men were further questioned concerning the cessation of use and the circumstances which led to that choice.