Anabolic Steroid Abuse & Addiction
Even though anabolic steroids were initially created to help with specific medical conditions that affected the natural presence of testosterone in the body, it was quickly determined that these synthetic hormones could encourage muscular growth.
This discovery that anabolic steroids could facilitate muscular growth in the 1930s led to an entirely new world of drug abuse, with everyone from the average guy at the gym to well-known athletes, in which people abusing the drugs often thought they were only doing something for physical gain.
However, anabolic steroid abuse is a big deal and can have negative implications on your physical health and mental health. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, use of steroids can turn into an addiction for some people.
So how do you know if you have developed a dependency upon steroids? From my experience a counselor working with body builders and athletes, there are seven specific signs that should not go unnoticed. These signs may apply to you or perhaps someone you know.
Avoid trying to “diagnose” when you read these. Instead, simply absorb the material and consider these through the lens of self-compassion.
Are you ready, let’s jump right in!
1. Continued Use of Steroids in the Face of Negative Consequences
The telltale trademark of addiction of almost any kind is feeling the need or desire to use a substance even though you know that doing so will negatively affect your life, body, mind, in a negative way.
If you start to feel like your desire to take anabolic steroids is outweighing your own good judgment, it is a good sign that you are already dealing with an addiction and should seek help.
2. Physically Craving the Anabolic Steroids
After you have given your body anabolic steroids over a span of time, your body grows accustomed to receiving these synthetic hormones in regular intervals.
If you are in tune with what your body does and how it reacts, you will immediately notice when you start physically craving the steroids. This is often indicated by an overwhelming urge to use emotionally, and even physical symptoms of craving the drug, such as feeling jittery and anxious when you don’t have them. This is different than normal stress so be sure to read my post on this topic.
3. Spending Lots of Time and Money to Obtain Steroids
Anabolic steroids are available legally by prescription only for specific medical conditions. However, there is a huge “black market” for steroids. Buying them in this way is almost always illegal. Worse, you run the risk of obtaining a substance that may not be pure. In other words, you really don’t know what is inside of the vial or bottle.
4. Negative Behavioral Changes
Anabolic steroids are infamous for causing personality changes with long-term users or users who are taking high doses. This symptom is so common that there is even a term for the aggressive characteristics cause by steroids, which is ‘roid-rage’.
You may notice that you have a shorter fuse than ever, reacting upon negative emotions with the slightest agitation. Steroid users often have manic episodes, involving extreme episodes of anger and aggression or even dopamine-fueled levels of euphoria.
Depression is another classic indicator of steroid abuse, even though you may not hear as much about this symptom as others. Depression is often linked to low testosterone levels in men, which means if you are coming off of a cycle of steroids, depression is likely.
During the downswing when the steroids are being reduced, your body may respond by not properly encouraging natural testosterone production. Long-time users usually see erratic patterns in testosterone levels all the time, which means there could also be apparent signs of depression.
6. Symptoms of Steroid Withdrawal
Once you have been on steroids for a long period of time, your body starts to believe that it must need these synthetic hormones to function normally. Therefore, when you suddenly stop taking the drugs, your body may react negatively.
The slight symptoms of withdrawal, such as feeling drained and having a difficult time focusing, may be disregarded as unimportant in the beginning. But over the course of time, it could be a sign that your body is has become physically dependent on the steroids. This means the withdrawal symptoms might become worse.
Some people report:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Inability to concentrate
- Fever, chills, and sweating
- Weight loss
7. Sudden Social and Life Changes
Even though you may see that your personality changes somewhat when you are taking steroids, you likely will not realize a big difference. What you will start to notice with a steroid addiction, however, is that your social interactions are changing.
Because you are consumed with obtaining and using the steroids, you will lose focus on familial relationships and the more important aspects of life, such as work or school.
You may notice that you would prefer to be alone or at the gym than spend time with those you love and you commonly disregard commitments. If you start to see sudden social changes, it is a good sign that you are possibly dealing with an addiction to anabolic steroids.
Long-term steroid abuse can lead to many dangerous medical issues and psychological problems. It is never a good idea to seek steroids as the answer to achieving physical goals or enhancing your athletic stamina. I know many guys (and women) who use them. While they may offer short term gains, the long term consequences are simply not worth it.
There are much more effective ways to reach your goals without causing your body harm, such as through the use of sports psychology, focused athletic training, and even counseling for peak performance.
If you believe that you are struggling with an addiction to anabolic steroids, make sure you seek help from a professional. You can also call Guy Counseling at 773.704.5300.