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How Addictive are Anabolic Steroids: Impacts To Your Brain & Body

What are anabolic steroids?

Anabolic steroids are prescription-only medications that are designed to mimic the effects of testosterone on the body. They are often prescribed medically by doctors to treat hormone issues in young men, delayed puberty, or other symptoms caused by health defects.

Although it has legitimate medical uses, it is commonly misused as a drug. Due to the way anabolic steroids replicate the male sex hormones, many young weightlifters and athletes use them to enhance their performance, build muscle mass, and decrease fat. Although most commonly taken by young men in their 20s and 20s, their use has also been recorded in people of all genders and ages. 

Beyond the athletic community, they have also been known to be taken by young men with body dysmorphic disorder. This is a mental health condition in which a sufferer becomes obsessed with perceived flaws in their appearance. They may take anabolic steroids because they believe they are not strong or big enough.

Anabolic steroids are most commonly taken in the form of an injection directly into the muscle or ingested orally as a tablet. They also occasionally come as gels or creams that are applied to the skin.

The majority of people who misuse anabolic steroids do so because they believe it will make them fitter and healthier, but this is not the case. Improper uses of these drugs can have a range of harmful effects on the brain and the body.

The risks of misusing anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids affect the limbic system. This is the part of the brain known for controlling our mood. These drugs can therefore have a significant psychological impact on users. Excessive usage can lead to severe mood swings and aggressive behavior. In some cases, it can also cause paranoia, delusions, and a false belief in one’s own invincibility.

As well as the brain, anabolic steroids also have a huge impact on the body, with a number of short-term and long-term effects. As well as muscle building and improving athletic endurance, they can also lead to oily skin, water retention, and acne. Over time, usage can lead to more severe symptoms and potential health problems. 

If taken by young people, it can lead to stunted growth and height. It can also cause issues such as high blood pressure, an enlarged heart, and an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. In men, it is known to cause baldness, decreased sperm count, infertility, breast growth, and an increased risk of prostate cancer. In women, it can lead to deepening voices, increased facial hair, male pattern baldness, and disruptions in the menstrual cycle.

There are also additional risks involved in taking anabolic steroids. If needles are used for injections, there is a risk of infection, particularly if they are shared or improperly used and stored.

How Addictive are Anabolic Steroids?

Although taking anabolic steroids does not create a traditional “high” like many other drugs, that does not mean they aren’t still addictive. Consistent misuse of these substances leads to severe withdrawal symptoms whenever users attempt to refrain from taking them. These symptoms can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or anorexia
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings

These uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms make it harder for steroid users to wean themselves off, and medical professionals advise a gradual reduction in dose to make the transition easier.

It is common for steroid users not to realise that they are addicted. They may genuinely think their use is reasonable, while their addiction is clear to everyone around them. Signs that you or a loved one may be addicted include spending a large amount of time and money trying to acquire them, or an unwillingness to quit.

How to get help

If you or a loved one are addicted to anabolic steroids, you should seek help from a medical professional as soon as possible. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action for breaking the addiction cycle and improving your health. They may also refer you to a drugs counselor who can talk through your addiction and offer coping strategies for moving on with your life.
In some cases, the best course of action can be to use a drug treatment center. The Robert Alexander Center for Recovery offers unique evidence-based treatment plans for alcohol and drug rehab in Kentucky. Our services include detoxification, outpatient programs, and intensive outpatient care. Get in touch to find out more.

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