Anabolic steroids: Use, side effects, and risks
Synthetic anabolic steroids are manufactured pharmaceutical substances that resemble the body's own steroid hormones, including testosterone. They are most commonly prescribed to stimulate the growth of muscles, increase appetite, induce puberty in males or treat chronic wasting conditions, such as cancer or AIDS. People may abuse steroids to stimulate lean muscle mass production, build strength and decrease exercise recovery time. For this reason, anabolic steroids are prohibited from both collegiate and professional sports.
Though steroids do not produce the same "high" as other abused drugs, they have been shown to be habit-forming. Continued anabolic steroid use can lead to both physical and psychological dependence. Meet and discuss your addiction with other people struggling with drug abuse.
A sponsor helps you complete the twelve steps to achieve a life free of steroid use. Inpatient or residential drug treatment: Stay at a rehabilitation center while going through a substance abuse treatment program.
The process generally includes intake, detox, group and individual addiction therapy and aftercare or follow-up care. Outpatient rehabilitation drug treatment: Visit a rehab facility several times a week for group or individual therapy to help you work through the issues around your addiction.
Outpatient programs may also provide detox. It's good to be well-informed about the treatment process for steroids and factors that can affect your experience before you set foot in a rehab program. Think about what type of treatment is the best fit for your situation and your addiction.
For example, how much do you want your family involved in your care? Do you want to attend a program in a nice location, like near the beach? Are you able to take time away from home and work? Whether it offers high-end features in addition to rehabilitation services.
Whether it's a day , day or day program. Whether it's an inpatient or outpatient program inpatient tends to cost more but provides a higher level of care. How much your insurance covers. If you need help finding out what your insurance will cover, or you don't have insurance, choose one of the options below. If you have insurance. You can call to learn more about what your insurance will cover and your treatment options.
If you don't have insurance. Contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's helpline for referrals to local rehab programs that serve people without insurance. Steroids can be taken orally or can be administered by intramuscular injection.
People who take the drug in a different manner than what was prescribed are misusing the drug. Those who abuse steroids may take doses 10 to times greater than what is recommended. Stacking Some people who abuse steroids may "stack" the drug. Pyramiding Pyramiding the drug may occur in cycles of 6 to 12 weeks. The user will take lower doses of the drug at first, and then gradually increase to higher doses over time.
During the second half of the cycle, the individual will titrate their dose back down again to help prevent unwanted side effects. Overdosing Overdose is unlikely with steroids. But someone who abuses steroids over a long period of time places themselves at risk for dangerous, if not deadly, health effects see next section. Increase in lean body mass. Decrease in fat mass. Side effects of steroid use include: Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes--a sign of steroid-induced jaundice.
Infection at the injection site. Long-term use of steroids can have extremely harmful effects. For instance, consistent use will reduce the body's responsiveness to the drug, which is known as tolerance. Additionally, continuous use of anabolic steroids may trigger the body to stop producing its own testosterone.
They may also take several different types of steroids to maximize their effectiveness and reduce their body's dependence on the drug. Long-term use of steroids will influence neural activity, as well as certain neurotransmitter systems--which, in turn, may have an impact on mood and behavior. Some psychiatric effects of steroid use include: Feeling of invincibility, causing impaired judgment.
Other long-term health effects may include: Kidney damage and kidney failure. Changes in cholesterol levels. Withdrawal symptoms from anabolic steroids can be quite distressing and often include: These symptoms make recovery from the addiction very difficult.
People who are dependent on steroids may require supportive medical treatments and even pharmaceutical interventions to treat their addiction. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5 , which is used to diagnose substance abuse disorders, does not specifically refer to steroid abuse disorder.
But research suggests that the existing DSM-5 criteria for substance abuse disorder could be adjusted slightly for steroid addiction, keeping in mind that steroids do not cause an immediate "high. An individual may be suffering from an addiction to steroids if he or she presents with 3 or more of the following signs or symptoms over a month period: Tolerance, or a need for larger amounts to achieve the desired effect.
Taking steroids to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Taking shorter "off periods" than intended or stopping "off periods" altogether. Anxiety associated with steroid cessation and subsequent inability to quit or cut down. Excessive amount of time spent acquiring and using steroids as well as muscle-building activities such as weight lifting or supplement use.
Abandoning other hobbies for fear of missing workouts or disrupting diet. Continuing to use steroids despite physical or psychological problems. Enlarged breasts in men. Abnormal amount of lipids in the blood. Cardiomyopathy thickening of the heart muscle. Many steroid users have body image problems. Many steroid users suffer from muscle dysmorphia, a form of body dysmorphic disorder in which the person has a preoccupation or obsession with muscle size.
Those with muscle dysmorphia are more likely to commit suicide and suffer from a substance use disorder. It's important to note that when seeking treatment for a steroid addiction, a mental health disorder could be present as well. Using steroids can be quite reinforcing due to the effects on performance and endurance, and this increases the risk for developing an addiction. People may continue to use steroids despite having a number of physical problems or even negative impacts on their social relationships.
Additionally, people who are addicted to the drug will spend exorbitant amounts of money to obtain it. Steroid use has become an increasingly serious public health concern. About 1 million men in the United States have been dependent on steroids.
A survey found that approximately 3. Steroid abuse among students increased significantly from then decreased from In one study, This increases the risk for HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases. The same study revealed that the more often the teenagers used steroids, the more likely they were to abuse other drugs cocaine, marijuana, smokeless tobacco.
They were less likely to abuse alcohol or cigarettes. Research revealed that adolescent males who use steroids are more likely to have: Lack of knowledge about health risks.
Parents concerned about weight. Teens must be educated on the health risks of using steroids to boost performance or muscle mass. If you or someone you love is struggling with steroid abuse or addiction, call Who Answers? Learn more about steroid addiction and recovery: Abuse of anabolic and androgenic steroids and related substances in sport and exercise. Current Opinion in Pharmacology 4: A review of the chemistry, biological action, and clinical applications of anabolic-androgenic steroids.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. Use of androgens and other hormones by athletes. Retrieved October 15, , from http: National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved October 15, , from https: American Journal of Psychiatry. Clinical features of muscle dysmorphia among males with body dysmorphic disorder.