Anabolic Steroid Addiction and Abuse

People abuse steroids to look fitter, build muscle faster, and enhance athletic performance. These people can become addicted to steroids, making it hard for them to quit on their own.

Addiction to Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are prescription medications often abused by people who want to look and be more fit. Even though steroids don’t produce euphoria like a typical addictive substance, those who regularly abuse these drugs are at risk of becoming addicted.

Signs of an addiction include:

  • Spending large amounts of time and money getting or using steroids
  • Ignoring responsibilities at work or home
  • Continuing to use steroids despite physical side effects like hair loss
  • Having persistent issues with friends and family
  • Experiencing severe depression as a result of withdrawal

Someone looking to quit taking steroids should look for help. In treatment for steroid addiction, doctors can prescribe medications to restore healthy hormonal balance and reduce depressive behavior.

What Are Anabolic Steroids?

Anabolic steroids are synthetic drugs that mimic testosterone, the male sex hormone. The full name of these drugs is “anabolic-androgenic steroids.” The word “anabolic” refers to the drug’s muscle-building effects, and “androgenic” refers to its masculinizing effects.

Another type of steroid, known as corticosteroids, shouldn’t be confused with anabolic steroids. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, are often used to treat allergic reactions. These steroids don’t have the same effects as anabolic steroids, as they don’t facilitate muscle growth and don’t mimic the male sex hormone.

Anabolic steroids are available with a prescription and have important medical applications. Doctors prescribe anabolic steroids to treat several medical conditions, including:

  • Delayed puberty
  • Hormone imbalances in men
  • Muscle loss due to disease
  • Certain types of anemia

Anabolic steroids come in the form of pills, injectible liquids and topical gels or creams. Street names for anabolic steroids include juice, stackers, hype and roids. Some of the most common steroid brands include:

  • Anadrol-50
  • Oxandrin
  • Winstrol
  • Anavar
  • Dianabol

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Steroid Effects and Abuse

People abuse anabolic steroids to change their physical appearance and abilities. Some athletes and bodybuilders use steroids for a competitive edge. For many, the pressure to stay competitive is a major factor in the decision to use steroids. However, many people taking steroids just want to look better.

There are three common ways people abuse anabolic steroids. They are:

  • “Stacking” – Stacking is taking multiple types of steroids at once or mixing oral and injectible formulations. Many steroid abusers believe stacking increases results, but this method has not been scientifically proven.
  • “Cycling” – Cycling is a process of taking steroids during predetermined periods of time, usually 6-12 weeks. Users who are cycling take multiple doses for several weeks, stop for several weeks, and then start taking the steroids again. Steroid abusers use off-cycles to allow the body to produce its own testosterone and to reduce damage to internal organs.
  • “Pyramiding” – Pyramiding is a method of taking steroids during a cycle. In the beginning of the cycle, users start with a low dose and gradually increase to a maximum dose mid-cycle. In the second half of the cycle, the user slowly tapers down their steroid dose.
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Many people don’t realize steroids are addictive, and it can be hard to quit without help. Many steroid users who quit on their own relapse. If you’ve been struggling with an addiction to steroids, help is available. Call now to learn more about your treatment options.

Signs of Steroid Use

Most steroid users take the drugs as a shortcut to become leaner, more muscular, and generally look better. The average steroid user rarely has the stereotypical bodybuilder physique.

Drastic mood swings and “roid rage” are common red flags of prolonged steroid abuse. Steroid abuse can also result in dramatic personality changes over time. Other common signs of anabolic steroid abuse include:

  • Acne
  • Rapid muscle/weight gain
  • Enlarged breasts (in men)
  • Paranoia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Facial hair growth (in women)
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Dangers of Anabolic Steroids

Many who abuse anabolic steroids will use them in “cycles.” They go on and off anabolic steroids to try to avoid negative side effects from the drugs. Despite these “off” cycles, there are still long-term risks from taking steroids. Studies have linked steroid abuse to liver cancer, kidney disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks.

Other possible side effects of anabolic steroids include:

  • Sweating
  • Impaired coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach cramps
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts
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The Effects of Steroids in Men Vs. Women

The effects of hormonal imbalances caused by steroids has a generally opposite effect on men and women. Some of the side effects of steroid abuse occur when a user stops taking the drug because the body has unusually low levels of testosterone.

Side Effects on Males

  • Enlarged breasts
  • Shrunken testicles
  • Decreased sperm count
  • Erectile dysfunction
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Side Effects on Females

  • Decreased breast size
  • Enlarged clitoris
  • Deepened voice
  • Irregular periods
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Questions about treatment?

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Recognizing an Addiction to Steroids

Just because someone is abusing steroids doesn’t mean they have an addiction. People addicted to steroids exhibit certain behaviors that cause them to put their drug use above all else.

Common behaviors linked to steroid addiction may include:

  • Prioritizing steroid use over potential health risks
  • Having cravings for steroids
  • Experiencing issues with family and friends due to drug use
  • Going to great lengths to find and get steroids

Withdrawal and Treatment

Even those who aren’t addicted to steroids may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drugs. After taking steroids for a 6-12 week cycle, the body becomes physically and emotionally dependent on the drugs.

Ongoing therapy can help recovering steroid addicts overcome their desire to use. Therapy can also treat any underlying issues that may contribute to steroid use. Call now to explore treatment options for a steroid addiction.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of appetite
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
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Withdrawal Duration

Withdrawal symptoms from steroid use can last anywhere from several days to two weeks. The time over which a steroid stays in a user’s body is known as the drug’s half-life. It takes longer to withdraw from steroids with longer half-lives. The half-lives of some commonly abused steroids include:

  • Equipoise (veterinary steroid) – 14 days
  • Deca-durabolin – 14 days
  • Durabolin – 4.5 days
  • Winstrol – 24 hours
  • Anavar – 9 hours
  • Anadrol-50 – 9 hours
  • Dianabol – 6 hours

Withdrawal Timeline

Days 1-2 The first symptoms of withdrawal begin at some point within five days of the user’s last dose, depending on the half-life of the steroid. Symptoms start faintly and may include irritability, headache and nausea.
Days 3-5 Once withdrawal symptoms start ramping up, former steroid users experience decreased energy and alertness. Psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety also start getting worse during this time.
Days 6-7 Withdrawal symptoms often peak the second week after the user’s last dose of steroids. Abdominal pains, nausea and weight loss are common. Steroid users may also reach the height of a depressive episode and struggle with insomnia.
Week 2 Minor withdrawal symptoms may persist after the second week of quitting steroids, but these symptoms pale in comparison to the previous week. Soon, withdrawal symptoms fade out completely.

Getting Help Now

Getting help can bring you back to your old self and there are many ways to pay for treatment if you are facing financial strains or concerns. The first step toward finding help is determining what kind of treatment you need to fit your specific needs. Call one of our addiction specialists now to find out what treatment center is right for you.