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Is Steroid Use an Addiction?



By Mike Silva ~ April 14th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, Outside the Apple.

The conviction of Barry Bonds for obstruction of justice could be considered the “cherry on top” of the “steroid era.” There are many people to blame for the free and clear use of various performance enhancing drugs, some that were over the counter at various points. One argument that I have made is that PED’s are just as much a mental advantage as a physical one. Thinking you are good gives you an edge as much as the physical strength and energy that results from its use. Remember, you still have to hit, catch, and run the bases. These are skills that are already present at a high level in all professionals. I have presented my theory to a couple of players who concurred with my assessment.

Another take, one that I never thought of, is whether the use of steroids becomes an addiction. Can you start to take these drugs even though it’s clear the impact is minimal? Does the mental or physical rush become the predominant factor behind its use?

According to Joe Schrank, an interventionist and editor of an online publication called “The Fix,” this is a real possibility.

If the public still has a difficult time accepting that heroin addiction is a disease, try convincing them that addiction to steroids is a medical malady. Consider the recent travails of Manny Ramirez, regarded by many as one of the greatest right-handed batters in the history of the game. Last week, the 38-year-old Tampa Bay player tested positive once again for a banned substance, his third such infraction in eight years.  Rather than accepting the M.L.B.’s penalty of a 100 game suspension, Ramirez chose to retire instead. He has a long time reputation for being a difficult guy, jumping ship when things get uncomfortable. From an interventionist’s point of view, walking away from a self-created mess is a classically alcoholic move. “A person who tests positive for any banned substance on numerous occasions, despite the prospect of facing severe consequences, may indeed be suffering from an addictive-type disorder,” says addiction specialist Dr. Scott Beinenfeld.’ Addiction to steroids is a poorly understood disorder with deep psychological underpinnings that are difficult to treat.”

Schrank goes on to inform us that “there are enough people addicted to steroids that Sierra Tucson, the Arizona-based treatment center, offers a specialized treatment program for steroid abuse.”

With all the research the league has done on steroids has this position ever been considered? I am not a drug treatment expert, so I don’t feel comfortable passing judgments on others. I do have experience about the effects that drugs and alcohol have on family, marriage, and career. I have unfortunately seen this first hand and still wonder if this is a disease or something that stems from external or internal issues. In other words is abuse of steroids a symptom or the disease?

At the very least it’s probably worth looking into if you are Major League Baseball. If you are going to preach about the dangers or steroid use, along with the consequences, then why not add a treatment program to the equation? To my knowledge there isn’t any.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Is Steroid Use an Addiction?

  1. Docta Mark

    Mike -

    Addiction is probably one of the least understood aspects of human suffering. Back at the height of the steroid era, my world was in the middle of the ‘decade of the brain’. I watched pinhead after pinhead preach to us about chemical imbalances being the root cause of all the suffering that addiction AND recovery brings. Of course, that led to the search for a genetic predisposition. In the early 90′s they promoted Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reward_Deficiency_Syndrome

    But much like the way MLB dragged their feet to address the PED culture it created, neuroscience also took about 15 years to get their head out of their asses re: chemical imbalances. Now they focus on epigenetic factors, neuroplasticity, and my favorite one, interpersonal neurobiology. That’s just three buzz words that are
    part of new awareness surrounding the complexity of adaptation.

    Manny is just reflecting one of the many signature patterns seen in
    the broader arena of performing arts. I’ve seen it with creative types like artists, musicians, authors, etc…as well as athletes. The ‘prize’ aspect of pro sports lends itself to risk taking behavior since the reward is so tangible. PED’s alter physiology and it’s that ‘high’ the athlete chases more so that the chemical rush within the high.

    Manny being Manny was more about a stage actor or an aging supermodel trying to sustain their time on the A-List then it was about warped alleles and fried brain circuits. This is a social neurosis. Once the ‘audience’ realizes this, the ‘performers’ will too. And that extends to the media and the systemic gambling that pervade all ‘prize’ sports, especially one as accessible as MLB is.

    Nuf sed, MRF 04.15

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