What Are Anabolic Steroids?
Anabolic-androgenic steroids, more commonly referred to as Anabolic Steroids, are a synthetic variation of testosterone, the male sex hormone. The names anabolic and androgenic directly correlate to “body growth” and “male sex hormones.”
There are cases where physicians can prescribe anabolic steroids. In some cases, children aren’t able to produce enough testosterone for puberty and need a kickstart. Other times, someone who suffers from a muscle-degenerative disease may need the steroids to treat the symptoms. A doctor will not prescribe Anabolic Steroids for the singular purpose of muscle growth. However, that doesn’t prevent the substance from being abused. Common street names for Anabolic Steroids include:
- Gym candy
The Effects and Hazards of Anabolic Steroids
Athletes and bodybuilders, men and women, will abuse Anabolic Steroids as they try to make bigger gains or beat out a competitor. It’s true, many who use Steroids get the desired effect they were after. This tempts many who feel pressured that they need to look a certain way. The repercussions, however, far outweigh the benefit. The use of Anabolic Steroids has a long list of harmful side effects, including:
- Greasy hair
- Male pattern baldness in men and women
- Facial hair growth in women
- Weakened immune system
- Overall growth of fat deposits
- Development of breasts in men
- Shrinking of breasts in women
- Shrinking of testicles in men
- Reduced sperm count
- Tumors and cancer of the liver
- Heart attack
- Mood swings
- Violent aggression (“roid rage”)
- Physical assaults
- Shortened lifespan
Who Uses Anabolic Steroids
Men and women who want to build larger muscles or increase physical performance are the most likely to take Anabolic Steroids. This applies to professional bodybuilders and athletes but will also include people who just enjoy exercise and want to see greater results. With the bodies and muscles that are portrayed in media, there can be a lot of pressure for teens to use Anabolic Steroids as well.
Whether they are on a high school athletics team, or just feel the added pressure to look like the actors and models on TV, the danger of steroids increases when used by teens. If someone takes it before they’ve finished the process of puberty, the sudden increase in hormones can negatively affect their development. That means their growth can be stunted, they lose hair, and increased acne. Young teens could also be faced with stunted brain development.
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Addiction to Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic Steroids are developed from synthetic hormones. That means, like any substance, it has a chemical reaction in the body. When substances that interact on a chemical level are introduced to the body, it is possible for a dependency to develop. Much like Opioids or other Stimulants, continuous use can turn into an addiction and cause the body to crave the substance.
Anabolic Steroids don’t provide a high to users. Because of this, there is a misconception that users can’t become addicted to them. Chemical addictions, however, can come from any substance that alters the body. When anyone uses Anabolic Steroids, the body can easily become so dependent on the additional hormones that it will stop naturally producing its own. Then, when someone stops using the Steroids, they go into withdrawal.
Anabolic Steroid Withdrawal
After someone has stopped use of Anabolic Steroids the symptoms of withdrawal may not start immediately. Typically, the hormones will stay in the user’s system for up to 5 days after their last dose. How fast and severe the symptoms come on depend on the amount and frequency of the doses. Common symptoms of withdrawal are typically the opposite of the Steroids effects. These include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Lack of appetite
- Decreased sex drive
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches
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Types of Anabolic Steroid Abuse
There are misconceptions that different methods of Anabolic Steroids use can deter negative side effects and prevent addiction. None of these practices, however, have been backed by any kind of study.
Pyramiding involves gradual increases in the dose or frequency of Steroids to reach a peak level, then tapering off over time.
Stacking is the use of multiple Steroids, most often to get better results without using too much of one kind.
Cycling involves taking doses on and off for a period of time, usually 6-12 weeks, to prevent the effects of long-term use.
Treatment for Anabolic Steroid Addiction
In many ways, the allure of Anabolic Steroids is greater than other drugs. The reason someone would use Anabolic Steroids is often tied to an attempt to better themselves. Their aim isn’t to get high, but to get fit. This rationale, however, can make the addiction much worse. When someone takes a drug for a specific reason, this can make it harder for them to realize that they’ve developed an addiction.
Like any addiction, treatment for Anabolic Steroids abuse should not be taken on alone. Anabolic Steroids are highly addictive, and the symptoms of withdrawal can be intense. In this way, they should be treated the same as any other addiction. Medically-assisted detox can help with recovery and increase the chances of long-term sobriety. To find out more, contact a treatment specialist today.
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