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Effects of Anabolic Steroid Use
While Anabolic Steroids are widely abused for performance-enhancing effects, these drugs are merely synthetic variants of the male sex hormone, testosterone. As a medical treatment method, Anabolic Steroids are prescribed to certain children to boost natural puberty hormones and to those with degenerative muscle diseases. In addition to building muscle tissues, Anabolic Steroid use can result in a range of negative side effects for both men and women.
Anabolic Steroids are sometimes called Juice, Gear, Roids, and Stackers. They are most-commonly abused by weight lifters or people looking to improve either their physical performance or muscle tone. Many people wrongly assume that because Steroids are not abused like Hydrocodone or Benzodiazepines, that they are not addictive. However, the body can become dependent on the hormones provided by Anabolic Steroids and suffer withdrawal without them – one of several characteristics of addiction.
Anabolic Steroid use has multiple effects on both genders, as well as different parts of the body. It affects the endocrine system (hormones), the cardiovascular system (the heart), the brain, and muscles. Effects will vary based on the frequency of medical use, whether or not it is combined with other drugs, and the way someone chooses to take it (orally, applied as a gel, or injected).
Heart-related effects from Anabolic steroid use include:
- High-blood pressure
- Blood clots
- Heart Attack
Hormonal effects for men from Anabolic Steroid use include:
- Enlarged breasts
- Shrinking of testicles
- Reduced sperm count and infertility
- Increased risk for testicular and prostate cancer
- Have painful erections
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Hormonal effects for women from Anabolic Steroid use include:
- Decreased breast size
- Facial hair growth
- Deepening voice
- Coarse skin
- Changes to menstrual cycle
Both genders risk the following negative health effects by using Steroids:
- Oily scalp and skin
- Acne and cysts
- Liver and kidney disease
- Tendon injury
- Water retention
- Stunted growth in teens
Emotional effects of Anabolic Steroid use include:
Additionally, individuals who inject Anabolic Steroids are also at risk of contracting hepatitis or HIV due to exposure to infected needles.
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Behavioral Effects of Anabolic Steroids
Ongoing misuse of Anabolic Steroids can cause damage in the limbic system, responsible for memories, emotions, and arousal. The negative mental effects range from paranoia, depression, suicidal ideation, mania, and delusions.
A well-known behavioral side effect of Anabolic Steroids is aggression, also called “roid rage.” First coined in the 1980s, the term was created after a series of murders and violent crimes were reported by bodybuilders. Individuals who abuse Anabolic Steroids while suffering undetected mental disorders were more likely to express roid rage. These types of mood swings have caused individuals to feel as if they’re being watched or are invincible. This behavior can also manifest when someone expresses extreme irritability or overreacts to everyday situations. Often, these individuals can become violent.
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Effects of Anabolic Steroid Withdrawal
While Anabolic Steroid use does not produce a high like Meth or Heroin, it can be addictive regardless. Repeated use of Steroids allows the body to eventually adjust to the presence of synthetic testosterone. In time, the body may begin to produce less natural testosterone as it becomes dependent on outside sources. One of the primary characteristics of dependency is developing a tolerance. People with a Steroid dependency need to take more and more Steroids to get the same effect. Once someone grows dependent on Anabolic Steroids, then stops taking it, the body enters withdrawal.
Anabolic Steroid withdrawal produces the following symptoms:
- Appetite loss
- Cravings to use steroids
- Decreased sex drive
In many cases, individuals may return to Steroid use to avoid or to manage such symptoms. Depression, in particular, can be a life-threatening symptom of withdrawal due to suicide attempts. Because Anabolic Steroids affect a person’s hormones, the timetable for withdrawal can be different for everyone. While withdrawal symptoms like appetite loss may return to normal in a couple of weeks, some symptoms can persist for a year or more. The best way to return to a healthier state is under the care of medical providers through detox.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can You Tell If You Have an Addiction to Anabolic Steroids?
It is not uncommon for individuals taking Anabolic Steroids to adopt various patterns of misuse. Like other drugs of abuse, people are likely to use Steroids in times of stress to regain a sense of control over their appearance. Because Anabolic Steroids can increase muscle mass in short timeframes, it can be easier to spot the signs of misuse or addiction.
Consider if you or a loved one have experienced one of the following concerning Anabolic Steroid use:
- Cycling Steroids (Taking multiple doses for a prolonged amount of time. Stopping, then restarting use.)
- Stacking (Combining 2 or more types of Steroids or combining oral and injectable Steroids.)
- Pyramiding (Increasing the dose of Steroid abuse gradually, peaking in amount, and then tapering to no use.)
- Plateauing (Alternating, overlapping, or substituting another Steroid to avoid a tolerance.)
- Have trouble controlling use
- Needs increasing amounts to feel results
- Engages in doctor shopping to get more medications
- Combines Anabolic Steroids with other drugs
Treatment for an Anabolic Steroid Addiction
Anabolic Steroids can create distressing long-term side effects that need immediate attention. In order to reduce withdrawal symptoms and the risk of stroke, cancers and organ damage, treatment is necessary. Treatment facilities offer multi-level healing, capturing underlying psychological and emotional trauma that can fuel substance use disorders.
Poly-drug use will also be a focus of treatment. Studies have revealed anabolic steroid users “report using an average of about 11 APEDs (Appearance And Performance Enhancing Drugs) yearly”. These individuals are also more likely to use estrogen-blockers, creatine, insulin and human growth hormones than non-Steroid users. When other supplements like caffeine are combined with Anabolic Steroids, they can damage organs in the body and may be hard to metabolize. Fitness, holistic and nutritional treatment encourage the body to be its healthiest in rehab without fueling addiction.
Contact a treatment provider as soon as possible in order to discover your pathway to healing.
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