Addiction to anabolic steroids
Anabolic steroids are synthetic drugs that imitate the male sex hormone testosterone. Anabolic steroids are used to build muscle faster, enhance athletic abilities, and improve overall fitness. Those who abuse steroids are at high risk of anabolic steroids addiction even though the drug doesn’t produce euphoria such as meth and crack.
The proper name for Anabolic steroids is “anabolic-androgenic steroids.” The term “anabolic” refers to the drug’s ability to build muscle while the term “androgenic” refers to the masculinising effects of the drug.
Signs of addiction
The signs of anabolic steroids addiction aren’t always obvious. Signs include:
- Compromising your finances to support your habit
- Continuing use of the drug despite negative physical reactions
- Experiencing depression due to withdrawal symptoms
- Continuing use of the drug despite significant problems with your family
- Ignoring responsibilities in your life in favour of using steroids
Though anabolic steroids provide many desirable physical attributes, prolonged use of the drug may disrupt hormonal balances in the body, and as a result, the user may experience a wide range of withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug (such as depression and suicidal thoughts).
Quitting steroids is difficult, but very much possible. There are medications available that not only reduce depression, but also restore your hormones to healthy levels.
What are the medical uses of anabolic steroids?
Anabolic steroids have vital medical applications and are often prescribed to patients in need. Several conditions require the use of anabolic steroids, such as:
- Specific types of anaemia
- Hormone imbalances in the male body
- Muscle loss as a result of disease
- Delayed puberty
Anabolic steroids are available in a wide variety of forms such as topical gels, liquids (that are injected), pills, and creams.
Street names for anabolic steroids include:
Steroid abuse and effects
Anabolics steroids are only legal when prescribed by a doctor. Otherwise, use of the drug is considered to be abuse and illegal. Users who abuse steroids without a prescription often take anywhere from ten to 100 times the dosage of what a doctor would prescribe a patient with a legitimate need for the drug.
When used, anabolic steroids redefines the body’s ability to build muscle. For example, when lifting weights or engaging in other strenuous exercises small tears in the muscles occur. While this may sound alarming, this is a natural process that helps the body to build strength.
When the muscle tissue fully heals, it becomes stronger as a result. When anabolic steroids are used these tears are healed at an unnaturally fast rate thus allowing users to become stronger faster.
Bodybuilders and athletes often use steroids to gain an edge over the competition. For example, football players have been known to take steroids to feel more powerful and aggressive before a game. Bodybuilders have been known to take steroids to increase their size. Even baseball players have been known to take steroids to gain an edge when stepping up to the plate to bat.
How are anabolic steroids abused?
There are three primary ways anabolic steroids are abused:
- Stacking – A mixture of injectable and oral steroids or mixing various types of steroids in one sitting. This is done with the expectation that results will be achieved much quicker. However, there has been no scientific proof of this fact to date.
- Cycling – Users take the drug for a predetermined amount of time (typically 6 – 12 weeks). During this period of “cycling,” a user will take the drug for several weeks, stop to give the body time to produce its own testosterone and reduce damage done to the body before taking the drug once more.
- Pyramiding – With this method, individuals use steroids in a cycle. Users begin by taking a lower dosage of the drug and gradually increases the amount they take until they hit a maximum point mid-cycle. The user will then slowly decrease their use of the drug during the second half of the cycle.
Who uses anabolic steroids?
It’s a common belief that males are the primary users of steroids. While this may be true in many cases that doesn’t mean that females don’t use the drug as well, women, just like men, are often in pursuit of a better physique and will turn to anabolic steroids to achieve the “perfect body.”
Furthermore, teens also turn to steroids to improve self-image. The Food and Drug Administration has estimated that 375,000 young males and 175,000 young females (high school age) abuse anabolic steroids on a yearly basis.
Is it possible to overdose on anabolic steroids?
It is rare for anyone to overdose on anabolic steroids, but it is possible for those who take too much at a single time. Those who overdose are at risk of experiencing a stroke, heart attack or falling into a coma.
Like many drugs, when a person abuses anabolic steroids on a regular basis, and anabolic steroids addiction can develop. Addicts will experience a range of withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit. These include:
- Joint pain
- Intense fatigue
- Appetite and weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Physical weakness
- Muscles aches
Withdrawal symptoms will typically disappear after one week after you’ve stopped using the drug. However, depending on the length of time you’ve been abusing steroids this timeframe can significantly vary.
Seeking treatment for steroid abuse
Treating an anabolic steroids addiction involves undergoing a supervised detox, medication and behavioural therapy. If you struggle with anabolic steroids addiction than you should seek both physical and psychological treatment. Those who take steroids often struggle with body image issues as well as depression which is often the source of the abuse in the first place.
As mood swings sometimes occur during steroid withdrawal, mental health counselling is useful. With continued therapy at an addiction clinic, the individual will relearn how to function without steroids. It’s important to get treatment from a trained counsellor and an addiction specialist who is experienced in treating anabolic steroids addiction.
Steroid users in rehab usually begin therapy as soon as they start to detox. Treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy can immediately address issues like depression, whereas it can take weeks for some medications to affect.
Many young adults have started using steroids because of body image issues, something that has been referred to as “reverse anorexia.” These young people feel pressure to use steroids because they believe their muscle size is inadequate. Counsellors can help steroid users feel good about themselves and their bodies.
Seeking a rehabilitation program that offers counselling is the best way to overcome your anabolic steroids addiction and view yourself in a better light. Even after your therapy has ended, you should continue seeing a psychologist to aid your long-term recovery.
Anabolic Steroids faq
A physician or endocrinologist (a doctor who specializes in hormone treatment) can prescribe medications to help balance testosterone levels.
A psychiatrist may prescribe an antidepressant such as Prozac or Effexor. It’s important to continue therapy because these medications can take 2-6 weeks before they start working.
This drug can help reduce withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, muscle aches and cramping. It can also lower high blood pressure caused by steroid use.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are commonly prescribed for pain relief.
Studies have linked steroid abuse to liver cancer, kidney disease, high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. There have even been reports of athletes who were in seemingly peak condition collapsing and suddenly dying from the stress steroids had put on their hearts. Abusing anabolic steroids can also stunt adolescents’ growth.