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Steroids users need more XTC pills

Recreational drugs like XTC or amphetamines have less effect on steroids users than on non-users. Researchers at the Finnish National Public Health Institute concluded this from experiments they did on rats.

Steroids users need more XTC pills
The researchers wanted to know more about the relationship between steroids and drugs, because studies have shown that drugs use is higher among steroids users than non-users. They wondered whether it had anything to do with the way in which the combination of substances affects the brain.

XTC and amphetamines both increase the concentration of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, in brain's pleasure centre. The more dopamine released in the nucleus accumbens, the better you feel. What's more, XTC also raises the concentration of serotonin in the nucleus accumbens. Serotonin contributes to feelings of pleasure and enjoyment too.

The figure below shows the concentration of serotonin in the nucleus accumbens of rats that had been given XTC [the arrow indicates when this happened, Ed.] and in rats that had been given a ten-day course of nandrolone decanoate. The nandrolone decanoate rats received an injection containing 5 or 20 mg nandrolone decanoate per kg bodyweight every other day for 10 days.

Steroids users need more XTC pills

XTC causes a serotonin peak; nandrolone decanoate does not. Nandrolone decanoate did, however, cause a dopamine peak, as did amphetamines and nandrolone. It's the peaks that give XTC users that ecstatic feeling – temporarily.

The combination of nandrolone decanoate and XTC works out differently than you might expect.

Steroids users need more XTC pills

Nandrolone decanoate flattens off the serotonin peak. The steroid does the same to the dopamine peak.

Rats that have been given XTC are more active than normal. They are high, and this is reflected in their behavioural score. The graph below shows that nandrolone decanoate suppresses that behaviour.

Steroids users need more XTC pills

How androgens cause this effect the researchers don't know. They exclude the possibility that steroids speed up the breakdown of dopamine and serotonin. They looked at that, and observed no change. They suspect that steroids have a negative effect on the brain cells that manufacture serotonin and dopamine.

"Abusers of AAS may require larger doses of drugs to achieve the desired effects", the Finns conclude.

Behav Brain Res. 2008 May 16; 189(1): 191-201.

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