Chris Benoit: Was Roid Rage to Blame?
Pro Wrestler's Alleged Murder-Suicide Spurs Questions About Roid Rage and Anabolic Steroids
Pro wrestler Chris Benoit
apparently was taking testosterone before his death, toxicology tests
Benoit, his wife, Nancy, and their
son, Daniel, were found dead in their home in Fayetteville, Ga., near Atlanta
in late June. The deaths are suspected to be a murder-suicide that began when
Benoit allegedly killed his wife and son and ended when Benoit hanged
Toxicology tests performed by the
Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) show that Chris Benoit had the
anti-anxiety drug Xanax and the painkiller hydrocodone in his blood, and
elevated levels of testosterone in his urine.
Benoit's Xanax and hydrocodone
levels were in line with typical therapeutic doses of those drugs, but the
testosterone levels indicated that Benoit had been taking testosterone for some
unknown time before his death, according to GBI officials.
No other steroids were found in
When the Benoit family deaths were
first discovered, many people speculated about whether Benoit had been taking
anabolic steroids and whether he might have experienced "roid rage"
triggered by steroids.
In a June interview with WebMD,
Gary Wadler, MD, answered questions about roid rage and anabolic steroids,
which are synthetic substances related to male sex hormones.
Wadler is a clinical associate professor of medicine at New York
University's medical school. He is an expert on roid rage and also a spokesman
for the American College of Sports Medicine, a member of the World Anti-Doping
Agency, and author of the textbook, Drugs and the Athlete.
What is roid rage?
Roid rage, in many ways, I would characterize as a form of loss of impulse
control. It provokes overreactions via a stimulus that normally doesn't produce
such a severe reaction.
So say somebody says something to you that you don't like. You may put your
fist through a wall. The impulse is there; it's overreaction. Forget the roid,
for the moment. It's a rage ... and that rage is precipitated by the brain
being exposed to anabolic steroids.
How common is roid rage?
I don't think there's really good data on how common [it is]. It's not rare
by any means, that's probably fair to say. It's not extraordinarily common.
I think a better way to view this is a spectrum of behaviors by people on
anabolic steroids ranging from being somewhat more assertive, moving up one
notch to being frankly aggressive, and moving up another notch to actually
having this roid rage. It's really an extreme of a spectrum of kind of
behavioral things that you see with anabolic steroids.
Could anabolic steroids account for severely violent acts?
Yes. It's been implicated in a number of murders and can result in extreme
aberrations of behavior including the taking of one's life.
Another thing you have to be mindful of -- it may unmask an underlying
psychiatric disorder that has been basically kept in check until the individual
is exposed to this category of drugs. And so what you may be seeing is unmasked