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Steroids (Anabolic)

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, anabolic steroids are defined as “synthetic variations of the male sex hormone testosterone.” Most commonly referred to as simply, steroids, they are used for muscle building and increasing male characteristics.

There are many short-term and long-term steroid side effects that result from taking the drug. While other drugs cause people to get “high” from increasing dopamine production in the brain, they affect the brain’s chemicals, resulting in changes in behavior and mood.

Why Do People use Anabolic Steroids

People use enhancing drugs for three common reasons:

  • They help treat hormonal problems. Anabolic steroids can be prescribed to people who have hormonal problems such as delayed puberty.
  • They can help treat certain diseases. Diseases such as AIDS and cancer often result in loss of muscle, so steroids help to build muscle back up.
  • They can be used recreationally. Steroids can be used for people who want to build muscle for an enhanced appearance or by athletes who want to boost their athletic performance.

Anabolic Steroid Abuse

Steroids are typically taken by mouth, injected directly into the muscle, or put on the skin in the form of a patch or cream. Those who are not using steroids to treat serious medical conditions could possibly be taking doses that are 10-100 times higher than prescribed, according to the NIH. This can result in many harmful effects to an individual’s physical and mental health.

Abusers use the three following techniques to enhance the optimization of the drug as well as diminish the possibilities of serious side effects.

Although there is no proof of these working effectively, many steroid abusers still use these methods:

  • Pyramiding: an individual will gradually increase the dosage or how often they take the drug, peak, and then slowly wean off
  • Cycling: individuals will consume the steroids for a while, abruptly stop their drug intake, and then start the drug again
  • Stacking: individuals may combine two or more types of steroids for an added effect

The Short-Term Effects

Anabolic steroids don’t produce the same short-term effects on an individual that other drugs do. The brain’s serotonin, opioid systems, and dopamine are all affected by the consumption of anabolic steroids.

The short-term effects may include:

  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Judgment problems
  • Delusions
  • Mood swings
  • Roid rage” — feelings that can result in violent behaviors
  • Other mental issues

The Long-Term Effects of Abuse

The long-term use of anabolic steroids can lead to serious health problems down the road.

Some of these effects may include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Damage to the liver
  • Enlarged heart
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Permanent mood swings
  • Hepatitis
  • Mental illness

In men, physical problems such as a lessened sperm count, smaller testicles, increased baldness, and prostate cancer can come as a result of steroid use.

Women may begin to form male-like characteristics with steroid use, such as growing facial hair and getting a deeper voice. Changes to the menstrual cycle may occur.

Teens may experience a stunt to their growth as a long-term effect of steroid use. If they begin using steroids before they hit their growth spurt, they may have a stunted height.

Can You Become Addicted to Anabolic Steroids?

Like all drugs, steroids may lead to withdrawal, dependence, or addiction in the future. When an individual takes anabolic steroids for too long, their body and mind may begin to depend on the drug to function.

Somebody may experience withdrawal symptoms if they are used to taking steroids on a regular basis and suddenly stop. This means that the body has developed a dependence on the drug.

Withdrawal symptoms of steroids may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Lessened sex drive
  • Changes in eating
  • Sleeping problems
  • Cravings

Drug dependence and withdrawal symptoms go hand in hand. When the body forms a dependence to the drug, they will experience those withdrawal symptoms if they do not have it. Drug dependence develops when an individual requires the persistent use of their drug to function properly.

Addiction is possible with long-term steroid use. Unlike dependence, addiction occurs when an individual’s mind and body become dependent on the drug. Signs of addiction are when a person’s life begins to revolve around the drug, they begin to have relationship problems, they begin to neglect personal responsibilities, etc.


If you or a loved one is addicted to steroids, know that there is plenty of help available to you. Drug abuse and addiction are not something that you can handle on your own, so do not be afraid to seek professional help.

There are small measures you can take to achieve sobriety such as counseling sessions, group therapy, behavioral therapy, finding spirituality, and more. More serious measures can include finding a treatment facility. Contact New Beginnings today and let us help you on the road to recovery.

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