Can You Become Addicted to Steroids?
Anabolic steroids are a type of synthetic hormone that function much like testosterone. They are often used to promote muscle mass growth. These drugs are used for medical benefits in some situations, such as helping a person with weight loss. In other situations, athletes and body-builders misuse steroids to enhance muscle development and create better performance. Illicit steroid use comes with numerous risks and side effects, including the risk of addiction.
Do Steroids Lead to Drug Addiction?
Many people using steroids do not get high or experience a sense of euphoria. They use these drugs for the specific purpose of increasing muscle mass, often to exaggerated levels. Can a person become addicted to a drug that doesn’t trigger the same pleasure center of the brain that most drugs do? Yes. Steroid use carries the risk of addiction as well as other health complications.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that about 32 percent of people who misuse these drugs become dependent on them. Dependence occurs when the body adapts to the presence of the substance due to consistent use. When that substance is no longer present, cravings and withdrawal symptoms begin, leading to the cravings for repeated use.
Some common withdrawal symptoms for those misusing anabolic steroids include:
- Loss of appetite
- Insomnia, even with fatigue
- Reduced sex drive
- Increase in intense cravings
The Complications of Anabolic Steroid Misuse
When a person misuses steroids, they may see significant improvement in the size of their muscles. But several problems occur. One of those risks is the development of steroid use disorder. This condition is much like any other type of substance use disorder. A person misusing drugs typically understands that there are risks to continuing to use that drug, yet they compulsively seek it out anyway.
Steroid users face several complications from consistent misuse of these drugs. Some examples of common physical and psychological problems caused by steroid use include:
- High blood pressure
- Excessive fats in the bloodstream that could lead to liver disease
- Heart disease
- Sexual dysfunction
- Breast growth in men
- Mood swings
- Intense irritability
Perhaps the most significant outcome from anabolic steroid misuse is the onset of depression. This depression often occurs when a person tries to stop using the drug on their own or cannot obtain more of the drug. Many people experience intense bouts of depression during the body’s detox process. These are worrisome because they are often untreated and, even with treatment, can lead to increased risk of suicide.
Changes in Personality & Behaviors
In addition to these complications, those who misuse steroids typically display significant changes in behavior and personality, including drug-seeking behavior. Many will give up activities and responsibilities because they are afraid they may miss workouts. Many will also consume large amounts of protein and not follow recommended dietary restrictions their doctors may require.
Steroids can also cause skin problems, hair loss, sexual dysfunction, and personality changes such as increased rage, aggression, and violence.
What Happens When Someone Stops Using Anabolic Steroids?
It’s possible to break dependence and addiction, but doing so alone isn’t ideal or recommended. A sudden stopping of these drugs may lead to intense anxiety and depression. It may also lead to intense cravings, high blood pressure episodes, and sudden death in some people.
Additionally, when a person stops using these drugs, they typically see a significant loss of muscle mass. As many steroid users suffer from some form of body dysmorphia, muscle loss can feel debilitating and embarrassing.
How Is Anabolic Steroid Addiction Treated?
In a safe environment with a medical detox center available, it’s possible to safely stop using these drugs with minimal mental health or physical withdrawal risks. Medical professionals guide the detox process, and detox is followed by individual and group therapy to help clients understand their reasons for using steroids and to manage emotional and mental distress in a way that does not harm their physical health.
If you are using steroids for any reason and find yourself unable to stop because of the intense withdrawal cravings, you’re not alone. However, it is up to you to take the next step in getting help. If you fail to get help for addiction like this, your condition will progressively worsen, and you may develop severe physical and mental health complications. Taking the time right now to get help can prevent further complications and put you on the path to health and wellness. Let our team offer that support to you today.
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