Anabolic steroids effectively stimulate muscle tissue to grow and respond to training by mimicking the effects of naturally-produced testosterone on the body. Unfortunately, anabolic steroid abuse, which can also come with a myriad of adverse health consequences, is relatively common, especially among bodybuilders and men or women involved in particular sports.
Anabolic steroids do have some legitimate medical uses, such as inducing puberty and encouraging the creation of muscle mass for individuals suffering from severe wasting diseases. However, even this comes at a price. Those who are otherwise healthy can quickly damage overall health and induce many unwanted effects.
Signs of Steroid Abuse
Signs of abuse typically include rapid lean muscle gain within ten weeks. Also, you might notice that someone close to you is working out many more or, if they are residing with you, receiving random packages in the mail. If they possess pills in a bottle, you might hear them rattling around in the person’s gym bag.
Other signs include possession of syringes and needles. In addition, injectable steroids leave puncture or track marks in the skin, and these can appear red and inflamed.
The appearance of acne is one of the significant signs of use. Skin that once looked clear and suddenly starts to break out indicates that something may be wrong, although acne is also a regular occurrence among teens and young adults.
Effects of Abuse
Anabolic steroids have an androgynous factor, and they can have an impact on sex-specific traits as well. The most infamous side effects are shrinking testicles and breast tissue growth in men due to the conversion of the steroid into estradiol. This can also lead to infertility.
The drug is converted into testosterone in women, leading to increased body hair and menstrual irregularities in women. It can also irreversibly deepen the voice.
Testosterone tends to result in acne breakouts due to the stimulation of the body’s oil-producing sebaceous glands, and it can also hasten male pattern baldness.
Users may also be prone to rapidly cycling mood swings, possibly leading to fits of anger, also known as “roid rage,” mania, or paranoia. In addition, domestic violence, robbery, and even murder have been linked to steroid use.
Cumulative Effects of Steroid Abuse
While many users often consider many side effects as relatively minor, long-term dependence can ultimately lead to major life-altering or life-threatening events, such as heart attack and stroke. Many complications related to steroid abuse are at first rather subtle but are cumulative.
Some reports of athletes 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. Steroids can also cause premature aging of the bones.
If teenagers use steroids and haven’t progressed fully through puberty, they may become stuck at their current height.
Other possible short- and long-term side effects include the following:
- Vomiting blood
- Stomach pain
- Increased cancer risk
- Blood clots
- High cholesterol
- Liver disease, tumors, cysts
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Chronic irritability
- Suicidal tendencies
- Altered cholesterol levels
- Shrinking of testicles
Those who inject steroids and share needles with others are at an increased risk of contracting bacterial infections and blood-borne diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C.
Treatment for Steroid Abuse
Steroid abuse treatment involves eliminating all the steroid products in the person’s possession and taking them gently through the withdrawal process.
Withdrawal symptoms typically include the following:
- Depression and anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
- Reduced libido
Often, the withdrawal process involves gradually reducing the amount of steroids so that the body can adjust slowly over time.
There are usually severe underlying problems as to why the person felt they needed to use steroids in the first place, especially those related to body image, including body dysmorphia. In addition, the user may genuinely believe in a requirement for fitness and virility. Psychotherapy and counseling may be needed to confront these false beliefs.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer therapeutic and supportive programs that address all aspects of drug addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions. Our approach to treatment includes the following evidence-based methods and activities:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Group support
- Individual and family counseling
- Health and wellness education
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni events