Home » Basics of Addiction » Steroid Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Steroid Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Although many people associate steroid abuse with fierce athletes, the truth is anabolic steroids are also a serious problem in high schools and colleges around the country. This is due to the fact that they can induce puberty and encourage the creation of muscle mass. A big factor in steroid abuse still remains the pursuit of performance, however, recent studies now show that addiction also plays a vital role in the excessive use by some individuals. Steroids can easily get out of control and lead to serious health problems such as liver damage, hallucinations, depression, and joint pain.

Anabolic steroid addiction is referred to as “roid rage” and can make users become agitated easily and develop violent behaviors. Individuals may also use steroids in combination with other illicit drugs and become psychologically and physically addicted. It is important to understand the facts surrounding steroid addiction, especially for those who suffer from addiction and the recovering community.

What are anabolic steroids?

Anabolic steroids are a manufactured pharmaceutical substances that resemble the body’s own steroid hormones, such as testosterone. They encourage skeletal muscle growth, known as anabolic effects, and male sexual characteristics development, or androgenic effects, in both men and women.

These drugs can stimulate the growth of muscles, increase appetite, and decrease exercise recovery time. Many athletes use anabolic steroids to enhance performance and prolong endurance, which is why they are prohibited from professional sports.

Furthermore, anabolic steroids were developed in the 1930’s as a means for treating a condition in which the male testes are underdeveloped and do not produce testosterone, known as hypogonadism. Then in the following years, researchers found that these drugs can induce muscle mass in lab animals. Consequently, many bodybuilders and weight lifters become the pioneers in using and abusing steroids. Today, steroids have evolved to become a competitive, as well as a recreational drug.

Anabolic steroids can be injected into a muscle, taken as a pill, or as a gel rubbed on the skin. Among the most commonly abused steroids are anadrol, oxandrin, dianabol, winstrol, deca-durabolin, and equipoise. There are also individuals who take legal dietary supplements such as dehydroepiandrosterone that contain certain steroid hormones. If taken in large amounts, they can also cause the same side effects as anabolic steroids. Steroid abusers have been known to take doses 10 to 100 times a doctor’s recommended dose.

Steroid Abuse

There are three recurrent ways individuals abuse anabolic steroids, including:

  1. “Cycling”: “cycling” is a pattern that involves taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period of time, stopping for a period, and starting again. Steroid abusers use off-cycles to allow the body to produce its own testosterone and to reduce damage to internal organs.
  2. “Stacking”: “stacking” is the process ofcombining several different types of steroids. Abusers take two or more different anabolic steroids, mixing oral and/or injectable types. They believe that “stacking” increases results but this method has not been scientifically proven.
  3. “Pyramiding”: this is a process of taking steroids during a cycle. Abusers slowly escalate steroid use and gradually increase to a maximum dose mid-cycle. In the second half of the cycle, the doses are slowly decreased to zero. 


Anabolic Steroids Side Effects

Abusing anabolic steroids can lead to life-threatening side effects. Some of the most common side effects include:

·         In men:

·         shrinking testicles

·         decreased sperm count

·         baldness

·         development of breasts

·         increased risk for prostate cancer

·         In women:

·         growth of facial hair or excess body hair

·         male-pattern baldness

·         changes in or stop in the menstrual cycle

·         enlarged clitoris

·         deepened voice

·         In teens:

·         Stunted growth (when high hormone levels from steroids signal to the body to stop bone growth too early)

·         Stunted height (if teens use steroids before their growth spurt)

·         In both men and women:

·         High blood pressure

·         Heart attack

·         Stroke

·         High levels of bad cholesterol

·         Low levels of good cholesterol

·         Liver disease and liver cancer

·         Acne

·         Oily skin

·         Hair loss

·         Skin infections

·         Aggression, rage, violence, mania, delusions

·         Addiction

Recognizing the Addiction

Common symptoms 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
  • Needing more steroids to achieve the desired appearance
  • Using steroids to prevent withdrawal symptoms
  • Not being able to quit using steroids due to anxiety caused by decreasing muscle size
  • Abandoning hobbies and engaging in muscle-related activities
  • Continuing to abuse steroids regardless of mental or physical health problems

Anabolic Steroids and Addiction

Although anabolic steroids don’t cause a strong “high”, they can be highly addictive in exactly the same way other drugs are. Individuals who abuse anabolic steroids become both psychologically and physically addicted.

When the abuser is psychologically addicted, they can suffer from muscle dysmorphia, a disorder in which the user obsesses about being small and undeveloped. Men with this disorder believe they are too weak, too frail and tiny even if they are muscular, while women who are muscular and well-built but believe they are overweight. 

Moreover, the symptoms of physical addiction to anabolic steroids are well-researched and documented. Individuals who abuse steroids and have become adapted to the presence of steroid support may experience a wide range of withdrawal symptoms when steroid use instantly stops. The most common withdrawal symptoms include:

·         mood swings

·         fatigue

·         restlessness

·         loss of appetite

·         sleep problems

·         decreased sex drive

·         steroid cravings

·         depression

·         suicide attempt

Steroids Addiction Treatment

There are different types of recovery programs intended to meet a variety of individual’s needs. The most successful treatment options include:

  • Inpatient recovery: during inpatient recovery, the person lives at the facility throughout the entire duration of the treatment. Generally, most residential programs last from 28 days to 90 days, depending on the specific needs of the individual.
  • Outpatient recovery: outpatient treatment allows individuals to reside at home outside of treatment hours. They attend group and individual therapy sessions each week, and meet regularly with their psychiatrist.
  • Dual diagnosis: dual diagnosis blends the most successful aspects of mental health care and substance abuse treatment. Since many steroid abusers suffer from depression or muscle dysmorphia, enrolling into a facility that offers dual diagnosis will help prevent relapse and will address underlying issues.
  • Group therapy: group therapy involves one or more psychologists who lead a group of roughly five to 15 patients. Typically, groups meet for an hour or two each week and share their steroid experiences.
  • Individual therapy: steroid abusers will work one-on-one with a trained therapist to better understand themselves, set personal goals, and cope with triggers in the future.
  • Medications: many rehab facilities will prescribe antidepressants, such as clomipramine or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to treat the depression symptoms that occur during steroid withdrawal. Recovering patients might also receive anti-inflammatory medication to treat muscle and joint pain. If the person is experiencing sexual dysfunction, the doctor might also prescribe Viagra to improve sexual functioning.

For more information please call this Toll Free 24/7 Addiction Treatment Helpline at (844) 439-4765. This is a completely confidential call. If you have health insurance it may cover up to 100% of the treatment cost. So please call now!

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