The Side Effects of Abusing Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are a kind of medication that should only be taken with a prescription. They are sometimes used without a prescription by people to enhance their athletic performance and increase their muscle mass. This kind of misuse can lead to serious side effects including addiction.

Anabolic steroids are essentially a synthesized version of the male hormone testosterone. There are some medical uses, but anabolic steroids shouldn’t be confused with corticosteroids. They are a different form of steroid altogether, and corticosteroids have more medical uses.

This page will look at the dangers associated with misusing anabolic steroids and is designed to advise and support people who have found themselves addicted to steroids. It will cover:

Are Anabolic Steroids Illegal?

Anabolic steroids are classified as class C drugs. This means that you can’t buy them without a prescription.

It is not currently illegal to possess anabolic steroids if they are for personal use. It’s also legal to export or import them as long as you do it in person. You can’t legally send them by mail or courier.

It is illegal, however, to possess, import or export anabolic steroids if it is believed that you intend to supply or sell them, even to friends and family. There are an unlimited fine and potential jail sentence attached to this crime.

Most sports commissions and organizations have banned the use of anabolic steroids and regularly test athletes to enforce the ban.

Why are Anabolic Steroids Misused?

Anabolic steroids are performance-enhancers. This means that they increase your muscle mass and burn away at fat. They also cause many unwanted results. Some athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders regularly use steroids to boost their performance and improve their bodies.

People of all ages misuses steroids, including adolescents suffering from body dysmorphia. This is an anxiety disorder where people feel the way their body looks isn’t the way that it should.

Teenage boys and young men tend to misuse anabolic steroids because they suffer from reverse anorexia. This is where instead of feeling they are too big, they are too small, and need to be bigger and stronger.

There are also people who feel that they can improve their fitness by taking anabolic steroids. This is a complete fallacy. Anabolic steroids are dangerous habit-forming drugs.

How People Take Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are commonly injected directly into the muscles. There are also the tablet, cream and gel versions of steroids that are taken orally or rubbed into the skin.

Many people who are taking steroids are at least aware of the dangers. They can prepare and achieve the results they want from the drugs without forming habits or other health problems. One common way of doing this is “cycling”. Cycling is where people take the drug for a short time before cycling off and not taking steroids for a short period.

Some people take more than one steroid at once. This is a common practice known as “stacking” designed to increase the results further.

There is another term; “pyramiding”. This is when people combine stacking and cycling. People take a mixture of small doses of steroids. Over the course of 6-12 weeks, the dose is slowly increased to the maximum dose. Afterward, the dose is gradually reduced back to zero to cycle off before restarting.

People taking steroids also increase their levels of exercise to burn through the enhancement and make the most out of it.

Smart athletes are known to plan ahead and cycle off of steroids before they are tested so they can stay on the juice and still pass the drug tests.

No Side Effects and Legal Steroid Alternatives

Anabolic Steroid Side-Effects

Taking steroids on a regular basis can cause some male features as well as increased muscle mass. Steroids can also cause potentially dangerous medical conditions. It can increase your blood pressure, causing hypertension, and can also lead to heart attacks.

Physical Effects

The physical side effects in men taking anabolic steroids include:

  • Reduced sperm production
  • Infertility
  • Shrunken testicles
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Baldness
  • Gynecomastia (breast development)
  • Increased risk of developing prostate cancer
  • Acne
  • Stomach pain

The following are the common physical side effects in women:

  • Unwanted body hair
  • Smaller breasts
  • Swollen clitoris
  • Deeper voice
  • Increased sex drive
  • Irregular periods
  • Hair loss
  • Acne

Both males and females can suffer from any of the following side effects:

  • Heart attacks and stroke
  • Tumours in the liver and kidney
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Blood clots
  • Fluid retention
  • High cholesterol

Psychological effects

There are also psychological side-effects to taking anabolic steroids including:

  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Mood swings
  • Manic behaviour
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Stunted growth

One of the side effects of anabolic steroids is to accelerate bone growth. If adolescents take them, and they haven’t undergone the growth spurt of puberty yet, then it can cause the bones to age prematurely and stunt growth.

Sharing Needles

Because anabolic steroids are often injected, people share needles. This is a dangerous practice and can lead to one of the following problems; shared by all drugs that can be injected:

  • Vein damage; ulcers and gangrene
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS

Addiction

Like any substance of this nature, anabolic steroids are habit-forming and addictive. Your body can crave the drug and become resistant to it; meaning you need to inject more to get the same result. You can also suffer from withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking steroids without reducing the dose first.

If someone is addicted to anabolic steroids the problems will only get worse the more they take them. The addiction means they won’t be able to help themselves, however.

When doctors prescribe steroids to patients, they also advise patients to reduce the dose and gradually come down from steroids. If you don’t come down gradually like this you can suffer from withdrawal symptoms including:

  • Depression and apathy
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain

How to Get Help

If you’re addicted to anabolic steroids or are worried that you might be, you should consult your GP immediately. Steroid addiction is treated in a similar manner to most other forms of addiction.

Your GP may refer you to a drugs counselor who is better trained to help you. These counselors discuss your drug addiction and advise you in how to safely stop taking them. They will also warn you about the obstacles you might face and guide you through them.

Last updated: March 27th, 2017.

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