Thursday, July 14, 2016

Police 'Roid Rage and Violence: Another Factor in Brutality?

Use of anabolic steroids by police is an under-investigated factor relative to the use of force by police officers. 

In the wake of years of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police officers, and sometimes even citizens, for minimal or imagined crimes, it is time to consider whether ‘roid rage plays a part in the abuse of force by men and women sworn to protect the peace.

Thiblin and Parklo (2002) coordinate steroid use with later criminal violence and anti-social behavior, but the same size was limited. International Business Times (2013) links police ‘roid rage to steroid abuse and gym use.

The problem is so widespread, writes Sabrina Erdeley (2005) in Men’s Health that “the DEA has published a pamphlet called Steroid Abuse by Law Enforcement Personnel, whose cover depicts two uniformed officers surrounded by floating syringes” (para. 5).  Juicers in blue also states there is no evidence about how steroids may contribute to police brutality – because there is so little research going on.

Erdeley has some examples that I can readily relate to recent instances of police brutality in the news – the feelings of physical omnipotence and super-hero strength endowing the officer with a sense of invincibility.

Charlie Gillis (2008) in Canadian McClean’s reports on widespread acceptance of anabolic steroid use among police as necessary to maintain an intimidating muscular presence that further separates police from the communities they patrol. He quotes one law enforcement official as saying that every police officer should take one cycle of steroid a year.
Fogel (2012) even introduces a term to make the use of these controlled substances more legitimate – Vocational steroid use.
Arizona law officers and University researchers (Humphrey et al, 2016) write about the difficulties of monitoring the use of Schedule III drug.  Officers often believe they need to boost their physical strength with steroids to do their jobs well.

Alcohol abuse is readily censured and penalized. But testing for steroids is expensive and not yet widely administered.


Erdely, S. R. (2005). Juicers in blue. Men’s Health, 20(8), online.

Fogel, C.A. (2012). Vocational steroid use: Reconsidering the effectiveness of a prohibiton approach [abstract in English trans.]. Journal of Social Research, 3(1), 25-26. Accessed at EBSCO.

Gillis, C. (2008). When the police are on the juice. McLean’s, 121(23), online.

Humphrey, K.R., Decker, K.P., Goldberg, L., Harrison, G.P, Gutman, J., & Green, G. (2016, July). Anabolic steroid use and abuse by police officers: Policy and prevention. The Police Chief: The Professional Voice of Law Enforcements. Accessed at

International Business Times. (2013, Jan. 23). Police ‘roid rage: Widespread corruption linked to steroid abuse and gym use. International Business Times, online via EBSCO.

Thiblin, I.,  & Parklo, T. (2002). Anabolic androgenic steroids and violence. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica Supplement 412, 106, 125-128. Accessed at EBSCO.

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