Reinforcing aspects of androgens
Wood RI.
Department of Cell and Neurobiology,
Keck School of Medicine
at the University of Southern California,
1333 San Pablo Street,
BMT 401, Los Angeles,
CA 90033, United States.
Physiol Behav. 2004 Nov 15;83(2):279-289


Are androgens reinforcing? Androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS) are drugs of abuse. They are taken in large quantities by athletes and others to increase performance, often with negative long-term health consequences. As a result, in 1991, testosterone was declared a controlled substance. Recently, Brower [K.J. Brower, Anabolic steroid abuse and dependence. Curr. Psychiatry Rep. 4 (2002) 377-387.] proposed a two-stage model of AAS dependence. Users initiate steroid use for their anabolic effects on muscle growth. With continued exposure, dependence on the psychoactive effects of AAS develops. However, it is difficult in humans to separate direct psychoactive effects of AAS from the user's psychological dependence on the anabolic effects of AAS. Thus, studies in laboratory animals are useful to explore androgen reinforcement. Testosterone induces a conditioned place preference in rats and mice, and is voluntarily consumed through oral, intravenous, and intracerebroventricular self-administration in hamsters. Active, gonad-intact male and female hamsters will deliver 1 μg/μl testosterone into the lateral ventricles. Indeed, some individuals self-administer testosterone intracerebroventricularly to the point of death. Male rats develop a conditioned place preference to testosterone injections into the nucleus accumbens, an effect blocked by dopamine receptor antagonists. These data suggest that androgen reinforcement is mediated by the brain. Moreover, testosterone appears to act through the mesolimbic dopamine system, a common substrate for drugs of abuse. Nonetheless, androgen reinforcement is not comparable to that of cocaine or heroin. Instead, testosterone resembles other mild reinforcers, such as caffeine, nicotine, or benzodiazepines. The potential for androgen addiction remains to be determined.

SSRIs and sex
The menopause
Male depression
Growth hormone
Anabolic steroids
Steroid use in sport
Androgens in women
The male menopause
Sexual pharmacology
Testosterone withdrawal
The pharmacology of penile erection
Testosterone transdermal gel as an antidepressant
High testosterone people feel rewarded by others' anger

and further reading

Future Opioids
BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World

The Good Drug Guide
The Good Drug Guide

The Responsible Parent's Guide
To Healthy Mood Boosters For All The Family