Are anabolic steroids addictive?

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Common signs of addiction include cravings for the drug, requiring more drug to get the same effect, and withdrawal symptoms should the drug be stopped. These are all behaviours that can apply to anabolic steroids.

The following is a statement from the National Institute of Drug Abuse concerning anabolic steroids:

“An undetermined percentage of steroid abusers may become addicted to the drugs, as evidenced by their continued abuse despite physical problems and negative effects on social relations. Also, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drugs, which is another indication that they may be addicted. Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking steroids, such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings. The most dangerous of the withdrawal symptoms is depression, because it sometimes leads to suicide attempts. If left untreated, some depressive symptoms associated with anabolic steroid withdrawal have been known to persist for a year or more after the abuser stops taking the drugs.”

 What are the psychological and physical side effects of anabolic steroid abuse?

 The complications of anabolic steroid abuse are a result of excess testosterone affecting almost all the organ systems in the body. Some of the effects are reversible and decrease when the drug abuse stops while others are permanent and irreversible. Life-threatening side effects include heart attack and stroke, the risk of forming blood clots (deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus), liver cancer, and liver failure.

Infections are a common side effect of steroid abuse because of needle sharing and unsanitary techniques used when injecting the drugs into the skin. These are similar risks to IV drug abusers with increase potential to acquire blood-borne infections such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. Skin abscesses may occur at injection sites and may spread to other organs of the body. Endocarditis or an infection of the heart valves is not uncommon.

Psychiatric and psychologic complications include manic behaviour and psychosis including hallucinations and delusions. Aggressive behaviour is common and is often known as “roid rage”

Because the muscle growth can occur quickly, it can cause stress on the tendons that attach the muscle to bone and anabolic steroid abusers are at risk for tendon rupture.

Anabolic steroids can increase bone production, especially in the skull and face. Teeth can splay apart as the maxilla and mandible grow. There can be overgrowth of the forehead giving an “Incredible Hulk” appearance. If adolescent teenagers abuse steroids before they have finished growing, these drugs can prematurely close bone growth plates, leading to short stature.

If used in this way, they can cause serious side effects and addiction.

Like many other substances, anabolic steroids are addictive. This means you can crave the drug, require more to get the same effect and have withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking them.

A person who is addicted to anabolic steroids will continue using them despite experiencing unpleasant physical side effects.

When doctors prescribe steroid medication, they always advise coming off the medication slowly, by gradually reducing the dose. Coming off anabolic steroids suddenly can result in withdrawal symptoms that include: depression and apathy; feelings of anxiety; difficulty concentrating; insomnia; anorexia; decreased sex drive; fatigue (extreme tiredness); headachesmuscle and joint pain.

Anabolic Steroid Addictions will be addressed at the Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference. Addiction 2015 will be held on the 5-6 March 2015 at Outriggers Gold Coast. Addiction 2015 will be hosted by the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association (ANZMH). The Conference is for Addiction treatment professionals, care clinicians, researchers and academics. The Call for Abstracts is open and will close on the 21 November 2014.

addiction_conference_bannerFor more information visit the website and contact the Secretariat by email:  Abstracts close: 21st November 2014

Incorporating Evidence Based e-Mental Health Resources into Primary Care

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The 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis. Be a part of the discussion by registering for the symposium to be held 12-14 November 2014 at the Commercial Club Albury.

Jan Orman

Dr Jan Orman, GP Services Consultant from Black Dog Institute

“Incorporating Evidence Based e-Mental Health Resources into Primary Care”

Over the last two decades the internet has provided a platform for the development of many effective mental health interventions. These programs have proved useful tools in primary care, especially in rural and remote areas where sufferers cannot always access the specialised face-to-face care they need.

Unfortunately the uptake of e-Mental Health has not been rapid. Part of the problem seems to be that GPs have not been given the information they need about the programs in order to use them effectively, or to understand how to incorporate them into existing work practices.

Evidence supporting the use of a selection of Australian e-Mental Health resources will be discussed by Dr Jan Orman, GP Services Consultant from Black Dog Institute. Various programs available in Australia will be demonstrated using videos, slides and internet links.

For more details about this presentation or to view the full program please visit the Symposium website.

Registrations Open for National Carer Conference 2014

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The National Carer Conference 2014, to be held on the Gold Coast from 16 – 18 November, will host key national and international delegates from the carer sector, and will deliberate on the future direction of caring in Australia.

Carers, carer organisations, government representatives, business leaders, politicians, service providers, health professionals, academics, researchers and education practitioners will participate in the conference.

The theme of the conference “Keeping Carers Connected” will explore the diverse needs of carers and the capacity of service providers to meet those needs. The Conference will deliberate across three streams:

  1. Connecting carers to the community
  2. Connecting carers to services and supports
  3. Connecting carers with each other

The conference will incorporate keynote speakers and panel discussion members from across Australia and internationally, including:

  • Patrick McClure, Chair of the current Reference Group on Welfare Reform
  • Madeline Starr MBE, Director of Business Development and Innovation at Carers UK
  • Mr Frank Quinlan, Chief  Executive Officer, Mental Health Australia
  • Ms Cassandra Goldie, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)
  • Mr Glenn Rees, Chief Executive Officer, Alzheimer’s Australia

Panel discussions will follow each of the keynote speakers and look at the diversity of carers, providing insight into how carers can be better engaged with each other, with a focus on how to combine work and care, and carers and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Participate in the National Carer Conference 2014 and have your say on the future of caring in Australia, Early Bird registration closes on 17 October 2014, to register visit the conference website.

Click here to register and find out more or alternatively contact Kathleen Caller for more information on 02 6122 9917.

6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium: Early Bird Registration Ends Soon

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The 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis. Be a part of the discussion by registering for the symposium to be held 12 – 14 November 2014 at the Commercial Club Albury.

RRMH Early BirdYou and your colleagues are invited to join in and share with like-minded, passionate, inquiring minds, as you deeply explore the challenges and opportunities facing mental health in rural and remote Australia.

Register for the 6th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium before Friday 3rd October 2014 and receive the early bird discount rate.

The program is intended to provide all participants with an opportunity to contribute and learn.

By attending this important event delegates will:

  • Hear keynote presentations by renowned speakers.
  • Have access to 60 concurrent sessions, 8 workshops, 20 panel discussions and poster presentations.
  • Delegate only access to the presenter podcasts to catch up on anything you may miss.
  • Online copy of the book of proceedings.
  • Meals for the duration of the symposium including morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.
  • Symposium materials including satchel and handbook.
  • Ticket to the Welcome Reception including drinks and canapés.
  • Visit with exhibitors from leading industry professionals.
  • Be one of the first 100 delegates to book the workshop day and receive complimentary access.
  • Be at the closing ceremony for your chance to win a full registration and 2 night’s accommodation to the 2016 Symposium.

To register or view the program visit the symposium website.

Development of non-government services in clinical community mental health recovery in regional NSW

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The 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis. Be a part of the discussion by registering for the symposium to be held 12-14 November 2014 at the Commercial Club Albury.

Arthur PapakotsiasMr Arthur Papakotsias

Chief Executive Officer
Neami National

Presentation Title: “Development of non-government services in clinical community mental health recovery in regional New South Wales”.

Mr Arthur Papakotsias, Chief Executive Officer, Neami National will present at the 6th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium. Mr Papakotsias’s presentation will address the development of non-government services in clinical community mental health recovery in regional New South Wales.

The growth and evolution of non-government services in mental health recovery services in Australia has been notable and highly successful. Whilst a number of models of care are prominent in this evolution such as the PARC Units in Victoria, the partnership in the provision of clinical recovery services in these settings has followed a more traditional government/non-government split in the provision of services with clinically based staff and services which are predominately maintained and provided from the public mental health partner.

In New South Wales the development of the Dubbo and Regions Mental Health Recovery Centre and Broken Hill has challenged this usual threshold and has developed a model of care predicated on a non-government provider delivering clinically based recovery services through the employment of a multi-disciplinary workforce sourced from a range of key professions. This model is seen as an innovative development that will strengthen the partnership arrangements and set a template for effective regional service delivery of mental health rehabilitation services. This model removes the concept of us and them and progressively makes an integrated us.

Arthur has been Chief Executive Officer of Neami National for 23 years. He sits as Chair of the Audit and Compliance Committee of the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA), as well as the Chair of Housing Choices Australia and has completed post graduate studies in management at RMIT and a Strategic Perspectives as well as an Authentic Leadership Development Course at Harvard Business School.

From a background in Psychiatric Nursing and Psychiatric Disability Recovery Service management, Arthur is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD) and all state based mental health peak bodies. In 2013 Arthur contributed to a chapter for the Oxford University Press, Third Edition of “Mental Health in Australia”.

Neami is an accredited, national, community managed provider of mental health rehabilitation, housing and support services. Neami operates over 40 sites nationally, including sub-acute facilities in WA, NSW and Victoria and employs more than 550 staff to provide services to over 3500 consumers annually. With deep recovery-focussed service knowledge, Arthur is very experienced with all aspects of management and service delivery of mental health services in Australia.

Early Bird Registrations are available until 3 October 2014 and registrations can be made online by visiting the conference website.

For more details on this presentation or to view the full program with 70+ presentations, download the program here.

Breaking the Silence on Mental Illness

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By Alessandro R Demaio, Harvard University

It is estimated that almost one-in-two Australians will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime, and around 20% of us are affected by some form of mental disorder each year. Despite this, mental illnesses and those that are affected, continue to be subject to taboo and discrimination.

As part of the Melbourne NCDFREE bootcamp this May, we challenged our young leaders to develop a 30-second short-film concept. With just 2 hours to go from challenge to pitch, they worked in small groups to answer the question “how do we ensure another generation doesn’t grow up with a mental health taboo?”.


Thanks to some creative videography and acting from our collaborators in Peru, here is a short film with a big challenge for us all. Start seeing the person, rather than the mental illness – and break down the taboos that have long plagued this group of conditions – barriers to awareness, understanding and care.

Share this article and video to begin a new conversation on mental health.

To learn more about NCDFREE, head to

Twitter via @SandroDemaio

This film was sponsored by Remedy Healthcare.

Alessandro R Demaio does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Senator Penny Wright to present at 6th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium

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The 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis. Be a part of the discussion by registering for the symposium to be held 12-14 November 2014 at the Commercial Club Albury.

Senator Penny Wright Lo Res

Senator Penny Wright

Senator for South Australia
Australian Greens

Presentation Title: “Learning from Listening: Ideas for Improving Mental Health Services in Country Australia.”

During 2012 and 2013 Senator Penny Wright, the Australian Greens spokesperson for mental health, took to the road and toured regional Australia – visiting the length and breadth of our continent from Tasmania to Queensland and from Western Australia to New South Wales.

Her aim was to listen and learn lots, getting feedback about the gaps in existing mental health services from people working on the frontline, and the individuals and their carers who grapple with the challenges of mental ill-health every day.

Senator Wright used the insights she gained to develop practical, comprehensive policy that she would still like to see implemented. In this presentation she will try out some of her ideas on you – and share a few stories from the road.

Senator Penny Wright was elected to the Senate at the 2010 Federal election and took her seat on July 1, 2011. She is a proud member of the Australian Greens in parliament and works hard on behalf of people at home in South Australia and throughout the nation. As Greens spokesperson for Mental Health, Legal Affairs, Schools Education and Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Wright is passionate about her goal of a more inclusive Australia where all people can participate in their community and realise their full potential. She is also the Chair the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee.

Penny’s former roles as a solicitor, university lecturer and deputy president of the Guardianship Board – in which she focused on areas such as tenancy law, mental health, social security, refugees and violence against women – all helped prepare her for her work in parliament. As a lawyer, she often worked in the ‘little end’ of town, with those who live on the margins of society – people on low incomes, people with mental illnesses and people who have been dealt a tough hand by life.

Early Bird Registrations are available until 3 October 2014 and registrations can be made online by visiting the conference website.

For more information on presenters, download the Conference Program.

Australian pharmacies prepare to stock a new version of OxyContin that is impossible to abuse

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From April 1, pharmaceutical company Mundipharma will introduce its new non-crushable OxyContin tablets and withdraw the original version of the medicine from pharmacy shelves.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has warned its members to be on the look out for people with fraudulent scripts trying to obtain the last supplies of the old, crushable version of the drug in the next few weeks.

“It is expected in the transition period around the introduction of the reformulation, there will be an increase in the number of forged prescriptions for oxycodone prescriptions being presented to pharmacies. Pharmacists must ensure that all oxycodone prescriptions are safe and appropriate,” the newsletter said.

The savings to taxpayers could, however, be short-lived because the patent on OxyContin expires in the middle of this year and generic versions of the drug that are crushable will be allowed to be sold.

Last year the United States Food and Drug Administration intervened to prevent the sale of crushable forms of the drug there after 48 attorneys general signed a letter calling on it to help stamp out the diversion of the drug to the illegal market.

Mundipharma Managing Director Jane Orr said she wanted the Australian government to consider “new standards to recognise the utilisation of abuse-resistant technologies.”

In 2012 the government’s National Pharmaceutical Drug Misuse Framework for Action called for tamper resistant technology to be promoted for medicines diverted to the illegal drug market.

Banning non crushable forms of OxyContin would give Mundipharma a significant market advantage and could delay any savings taxpayers might make from the introduction of cheaper generic versions of the drug.

This would need to be weighed against gains made in stamping out part of the illegal drug trade and reduction in health costs related to deaths and overdoses caused by the medicine.

Read More

Addiction and Drug Use will be discussed at Addiction2015 conference.

2012-14: two years down the track – the transformative power of organisational positivity

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The 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis. Be a part of the discussion by registering for the symposium to be held 12-14 November 2014 at the Commercial Club Albury.

 Down the Track

’2012-14: two years down the track’ – the transformative power

of organisational positivity

 Ms Rebecca Graham, Executive Director
Mental Health, Country Health South Australia Local Health Network (Keynote Speaker)

Rebecca Graham lo res

Since 2012 Country Health SA Mental Health has achieved great things against greater odds. They attribute this, in no small part, to early adoption of Martin Seligman’s positive psychology model PERMA.

The influence of this framework on how they have approached each of their challenges has proved significant.

In her keynote address, Rebecca Graham with explore how this positive psychology focus drove Country Health SA on to plan and deliver new infrastructure and services in the face of great fiscal uncertainty.

Rebecca Graham is the Executive Director, Mental Health for Country Health South Australia Local Health Network – she is responsible directly to the Chief Executive Officer for the leadership of country mental health services and the mental health reform agenda for rural and remote South Australia.

Previously, Rebecca was the Director of Mental Health Planning and Redevelopment, for the former Central Northern Adelaide Health Service. In this role she was responsible for a number of major projects including the $134m Glenside Hospital Redevelopment with its many elements from facility design and clinical planning through to media and industrial relations.

Rebecca has experience in leading complex change and has been involved with both State-wide and National mental health policy development, providing high level advice to governments and senior officials.

Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Nursing and a Master of Health Service Management and has gained a variety of work experiences including intensive care nursing and education roles in both hospitals and universities.

Early Bird Registrations are available until 3 October 2014 and registrations can be made online by visiting the Conference Website.

For more information on presenters, download the Conference Program.


Can people really be addicted to sex?

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By Neil Levy, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

Is sex addiction real? That is, is it really a disorder, involving diminished control over behaviour?

Questions such as these are difficult to answer because it’s always difficult to distinguish diminished capacity to resist a temptation from a diminished motivation to resist. People who tell us they literally can’t resist might be deceiving themselves, or they might be looking for a convenient excuse.

There are two ways we can attempt to discover whether people who say that they can’t control their behaviour really are suffering from some kind of diminished capacity.

First, we can gather as much behavioural evidence as possible: with enough evidence, we might be able to build an overwhelming case that a group of people genuinely suffer from diminished capacity.

When we see the costs – social, financial, physical and psychological – that drug addicts pay to continue using, we have good reason to think they have a diminished capacity to resist.

The second way we can proceed is to use scientific evidence that bypasses people’s reports about what they can and can’t do. Again, the case of drug addiction is a good example: some of the neurological changes in the brain of addicts seem to be changes in areas involved in self-control.

What about sex?

Recently, a group of researchers at UCLA attempted to resolve the question whether sex addiction is genuinely an addiction, utilising the second method.

Using EEG, which measures electrical activity on the surface of the brain, they determined that people who met the diagnostic criteria for “hypersexuality” did not find sexual stimuli any more compelling than did control subjects.

This is unlike the response seen in drug addicts, who find drug-related stimuli much more attention-grabbing than do unaddicted controls.

This research has been interpreted as showing that sex addiction isn’t real. In the terms I used above, it might be taken to show that purported sex addicts do not lack the capacity to control their behaviour.

They simply lack the motivation; they might be morally condemned (if they are harming their families, say) rather than given a medical excuse.

But we shouldn’t place too much weight on this study. The researchers looked for a likely correlate of a difficulty controlling behaviour, but there are many others possible correlates.

All we can conclude from the study is that sex addiction is different from drug addiction, not that it isn’t real. Much more evidence is needed before we conclude that there is no diminished control.

Neuroscientists know a great deal about the mechanisms involved in control, attention regulation and conflict management. Most of these mechanisms are better studied with other methods, such as functional brain imaging, than with EEG (which was used in the study).

Before we conclude that sex addicts have no impairment in their capacities, we should conduct appropriate studies using these methods.

Addiction on the mind

Still, there are reasons to be sceptical that sex addiction will turn out to be an addiction that’s anything as powerful as drug addiction. Drug addiction is so intractable in part because our brains are not designed to cope with drugs’ pharmacological action.

There’s evidence that addictive drugs drive up a dopamine value signal artificially, every time they are ingested. This makes it impossible for the brain to assign the appropriate value to the actual rewards drugs deliver.

As an aside, gambling may also cause a dysfunction in the dopamine system by delivering rewards in an unpredictable manner that’s wildly different from the reward schedule our brains evolved to predict and understand.

That’s how addicts can find themselves wanting a drug much more than they really like it.

Sex isn’t like that: it’s powerfully rewarding but the reward is one that our brains were designed to seek. For that reason, it’s unlikely that the rewards of sex would ever become pathological in the way or to the degree that drugs can.

And anyway, addictions are diseases of persons, not brains.

Some people may genuinely experience a diminished capacity with regard to control over their sexual desires, even if there’s no evidence that they lack the neural capacity for control. They might lack requisite skills, for reasons to do with their learning history or psychological history.

Not all self-control problems are best understood as neural problems: well-functioning brains can drive pathological behaviour. The recent research is one more piece of evidence, but the jury remains out on whether sex addiction is real.

The Conversation

Neil Levy receives funding from the Australian Research Council. In the past he has received funding from the Wellcome Trust and the Templeton Foundation.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Addictive Behaviours and Sexual Addiction will be discussed at Addiction2015 Conference, to register or submit an Abstract for this conference please visit the website