Anabolic Steroids: A Deadly Addiction

Anabolic Steroids: A Deadly Addiction

Thinking of anabolic steroids conjures up the image of professional male athletes and bodybuilders.. Steroids are also used by men and women seeking more muscular bodies or performance enhancement in sports and physical activities. Abuse of anabolic steroids has been linked to not only health problems but legal problems as it is illegal to use steroids without a prescription from a doctor. The growing problem of anabolic steroid abuse can be diminished if steroid addicts attend a drug rehab program.

The Rage About ‘Roids

Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are synthetic compounds that have muscle-building and masculinization effects. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes AAS as schedule III controlled substances because they have an accepted medical use but may cause low to moderate physical dependence as well as high psychological dependence.

AAS can be injected or taken orally. A common pattern of steroid use is called “cycling.” During cycling, the steroid user takes multiple doses of steroids over a period of time, stops entirely for a period, and then starts again. Another method of steroid use is “stacking”, combining several different types of oral or injected steroids. Users think that mixing different types of steroids will make their muscles even larger and stronger.

Although there are legitimate medical uses for steroids, many people abuse the drugs to enhance athletic performance or obtain a more muscular physique. Sometimes, if an individual has suffered a trauma such as physical abuse, rape or bullying, he or she starts to abuse steroids. This is due to the belief that by becoming bigger and stronger, they will be more intimidating or unattractive and discourage people from committing more acts of violence against them.

Built for Destruction

The use of anabolic steroids can cause different adverse effects depending on the sex of the addict. Ironically, the use of steroids can cause a “feminization” in male addicts including:

  • Reduced sperm count
  • Impotence
  • Development of breasts
  • Shrinking of the testicles
  • Difficulty or pain while urinating

For female addicts, the effects of steroids are the opposite, resulting in the “masculinization” of the woman. These symptoms include:

  • Facial hair growth
  • Deepened voice
  • Breast reduction
  • Menstrual cycle changes

Aside from its sex-specific effects, steroid use has a negative impact on the addict’s body as it can cause the following:

  • Liver damage
  • Premature heart attacks and strokes
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • Clotting disorders
  • Weakened tendons

The health issues caused by anabolic steroid abuse can ultimately lead to death. Furthermore, the psychological effects of steroid use can cause anything from depression and extreme irritability to feelings of invincibility and outright aggression or “roid rage.” It is important to monitor steroid addicts if they are presenting with symptoms of depression because suicide is prevalent among steroid addicts. If an individual attempts to quit using steroids abruptly, withdrawal symptoms may set in. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping AAS abuse can be very distressing for the addict. Some withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Steroid cravings
  • Depression

Steroid addicts lose muscle mass once they stop using steroids, which may cause them to start using again. It is necessary to seek treatment for steroid addiction as it may be the best way to achieve long-lasting abstinence and prevent any adverse effects from becoming worse.


Seeking treatment for steroid addiction is the first step to recovery. Through individual, group and family therapy, the AAS addict will be able to learn coping skills that can help him or her fight urges to use as well as address underlying issues that may have contributed to steroid use in the first place. With the support of a dedicated staff at a drug rehab center, steroid addiction can be broken and help addicts take back their life.