Man lifting weights - Anabolic Steroid Addiction

Anabolic Steroid Addiction and Abuse

Last Updated: Aug 5th 2022

Reviewed by EliteStrategies

Anabolic steroid addiction and abuse has become a growing concern for basically anyone who is heavily immersed in the fitness world. Anabolic steroids build muscle mass, increase strength, and reduce the amount of time it takes to recover from a workout. So just how deadly is an addiction to these substances? Today, let’s discuss why anabolic steroid abuse can be an issue when used irresponsibly. 

Fact Over Myth: Helping The Misguided

You might be thinking that anabolic steroid use is a necessary evil to climb to the top of the ranks, within the fitness community. Contrary to what seems to be strongly-held beliefs on the subject, anabolic steroid addiction and abuse is without a doubt, something that has potential for addiction. But, since they do not cause a “high” or “buzz”, they are pawned off by many, since it’s not addictive in the same way as other known addictive substances. Nevertheless, many people who use them become psychologically and physically addicted.

Psychological Addiction

A vast majority of users who become psychologically addicted to steroids, also suffer from “muscle dysmorphia”–a behavioral condition in which someone views themselves as distorted. Women who deal with muscle dysmorphia are lean and muscular but believe they are fat, while men with this ailment believe they look weak and small, even if their physique tells a different story. 

Physical Addiction

Physical dependence is well-documented for many types of steroids, both of the glucocorticoid and anabolic variety. People whose systems have adapted to the presence of steroid support may experience crisis or withdrawal, when steroid use abruptly stops. Regarding anabolic-androgenic steroids, withdrawal symptoms can vary, but include:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Decreased libido
  • Less muscle mass
  • Lack of strength
  • Anorexia
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Steroid cravings

Long-Term Effects Of Anabolic Steroid Dependency

Prolonged anabolic steroid use can result in a number of effects on the mind and body, some of which can be life-altering or life-threatening. People who use and abuse these substances for a long time may stop producing testosterone on their own. And for those who begin using steroids in adolescence, it could result in stunted growth.

Below are some of the long-term effects of anabolic steroid dependency:

  • Heart attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Enlarged heart muscle
  • Liver cancer
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis
  • Peliosis hepatis
  • Endocarditis
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Mania
  • Depression
  • Violent Behavior
  • Depressive symptoms

How To Tell If Your Loved One Is Addicted

Anabolic steroid addiction and abuse consists of problematic and maladaptive use and immense impairment in the user’s life. The main difference between anabolic steroids and other illicit substances is that steroids are not intoxicating. They do not produce euphoria or a rush that is well known with other drugs. The reward, instead, is muscle growth or an improvement in appearance. Currently, the Fifth Edition of the DSM-5 has not provided criteria for steroid addiction. However, researchers have adjusted the current DSM-5 criteria for substance addiction to address steroid abuse disorder.

If you or a loved one is dealing with at least 3 of these signs and symptoms, then an addiction is likely:

  • Tolerance-needing more to achieve your desired appearance, and unable to maintain the same level of muscle mass with the same dose
  • Withdrawal symptoms that can include depressive mood, fatigue, insomnia, reduced appetite, and loss of libido
  • Using steroids to alleviate or mitigate withdrawal symptoms
  • Decreasing the duration of steroid “off periods” or removing them altogether.
  • An inability to decrease or quit using steroids due to anxiety, caused by decreasing muscle size
  • Spending much time getting and using steroids, as well as doing muscle-related things such as lifting and planning a diet. 
  • Abandoning hobbies in favor of muscle-related activities and steroid use.
  • Continuing to use steroids, despite the obvious mental or physical health problems like sexual dysfunction, shrunken testicles, heart problems, acne, enlargement of breasts, hypertension, aggression, and mood swings. 

Medications For Steroid Addiction

Many facilities like ours with North Jersey Recovery Center, would, depending on the case, prescribe antidepressants like SSRIs or clomipramine to treat the depression associated with steroid withdrawal. Antidepressants can also help treat the muscle dysmorphia that is all too common in steroid users. Alternatively, anti-inflammatory medication could suffice, as some withdrawal symptoms for users include muscle and joint pain, which is incredibly uncomfortable. An assortment of doctors will prescribe non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medication to treat these symptoms. 

Additional treatment for steroid addiction includes:

  • Endocrine treatment
  • Treatment for sexual dysfunction

Why Are Steroids Illegal Without A Prescription?

Despite what many assume, anabolic steroid addiction and abuse can be done, mostly, without the supervision or consideration of using a doctor. Steroids are only legal to take if a doctor has prescribed them to you, to treat conditions such as delayed puberty or wasting diseases like AIDS or cancer. Anabolic steroids are otherwise illegal because people abuse them to boost athletic performance or to improve appearance. They can and will cause negative consequences when used for nonmedical purposes. 

Treatment For Anabolic Steroid Addiction And Abuse

North Jersey Recovery Center understands the stigmas that accompany many of these illicit substances, steroids included. We implore our patients to not succumb to what others are pushing with the harm of illicit drug use. For anyone dealing with anabolic steroid addiction and abuse, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by EliteStrategies

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