It’s pretty common for a lot of people who are new to recovery to want to get back into physical shape. Studies have shown that people who exercise have higher levels of endorphins and serotonin, which definitely helps with the mood swings that can come in early sobriety. However, there is definitely a line between getting healthy and replacing working out with a previous addiction. This can often lead to many people using steroids in sobriety.
The issue with using steroids in sobriety comes not only in the fact that a person is physically taking, and often injecting these drugs but also in the mental effects it has on a recovering addicts mind.
In order to assess the dangers of using steroids, it is important to understand why people use them, and how they affect the mind and body.
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Steroids in Sobriety – The Physical Aspect
Anabolic Steroids are synthetic variations of the male sex hormone testosterone. The word, anabolic, refers to muscle building, so these steroids are primarily used to help people put on more muscle mass and strength at a much faster rate.
For those of us who are recovering from addiction, we all know the dangers of “too much too fast” and we need to also be aware that these steroids can react in our bodies much in the same way that any other mood or mind-altering drug.
Intravenous use: most steroid users, while maybe starting out with taking pills, can eventually lead up to injecting their steroids.
There is a particular “cycle” that needs to be followed in order to achieve the most gain from them, which can really mirror a person’s trying to control their drug use. Example, this amount on this day, continue using that amount for a certain period of time, taper off for a short period, and then get back on again.
Cardiovascular diseases: Anabolic steroids have been proven to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, even in users under age 30.
Lipoproteins: Anabolics interact with certain lipoproteins in the body, which carry cholesterol in the blood. Frequent steroid use can create buildups in the arteries which can lead to these cardiovascular issues.
The Liver: Steroid abuse has been associated with liver tumors and Peliosis Hepatis, where blood-filled cysts form in the liver and can rupture, resulting in internal bleeding.
IV Dangers: some users often share injection needles with other steroid users, or are often sold “dirty” steroids and can contract HIV, Hepatitis B or C, or even develop endocarditis, a bacterial infection that causes inflammation in the lining of the heart.
Long-term users will also experience a variety of other side effects, which are extremely common, and can be severely detrimental to someone who is recovering from addiction. For example,
- The constant fluctuation of hormonal balances can create kidney problems, liver damage, high blood pressure, acne, etc.
- Men often experience shrinking testicles, decreased sperm count and sex drive, baldness, development of breasts, and higher risks of prostate cancer. This occurs because the influx of testosterone will signal the natural testosterone to stop production, therein, signaling the body to increase estrogen.
- Women often experience an increase in facial and body hair, fluctuations in the menstrual cycle, and a deepening voice. The opposite pattern of hormones happens here, so the estrogen production stops, and the testosterone increases.
The Mental Aspect of Steroids in Sobriety
While Anabolics do not create an immediate feeling of euphoria in the brain, long-term users can wreak havoc on chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and opioid systems, potentially fatal level imbalances if a person chooses to use steroids in sobriety.
Not to mention, many people can develop or can further any eating disorders or body dysmorphia issues through the use of anabolic steroids in both men and women. The steroid “cycle” is usually followed by a “cutting” period, where a person reduces excess fat by introducing a stimulant. Some people also binge and purge, continuing an unhealthy pattern of physical and mental destruction.
Replacing One Addiction with Another
Another danger is the fact that we, as addicts, are pretty much guaranteed to abuse anything that gets us instant gratification. For someone who has replaced their drug addiction with one of physical fitness, using steroids in sobriety can pretty much be equivalent to taking an Adderall for study purposes or having a hit of a joint to relax. It may not seem like the biggest deal, especially for people who were low bottom drunks or hard drug users.
When frequent users choose to stop, or if they run out of their supply, they will experience withdrawal symptoms that are eerily similar to the more well-known drugs that they may have used in the past. These symptoms can include
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep Disturbances
- Decreased Libido
Because of this, it is common for many people, especially those who have been taking steroids in sobriety, to turn to other forms of medication to combat these side effects, which can lead many recovering addicts to a relapse.
We are all familiar with the phrase, where a person who uses steroids can be quick-tempered or go through crazy mood swings. Anabolics steroids in sobriety are so dangerous because they can create feelings of paranoia, irritability, delusions, and impaired judgments. For those of us in recovery, we already have enough difficulty getting back on our feet mentally and emotionally. Adding on a whole other level of crazy, ESPECIALLY in conjunction with any prescriptions we might be taking for anxiety, depression, bipolar, etc., can be extremely detrimental to our sobriety.
For the most part, many people who are taking steroids in sobriety, are obtaining them through a friend, a coworker, a gym buddy, or a street dealer. This means it is illegal, and it is something that, if they are working a program, they know is wrong for their sobriety. This could bring on feelings of guilt and shame, while also bringing the conflict that it is giving them the desired effect they were looking for. Sounds pretty similar to the same behavior patterns they were utilizing during their addiction.
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Freedom From Addiction
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism or addiction, understand that you are not alone in your struggles! If you are ready to change your life and finally be free of your addiction, then FindAddictionRehabs.com can help. We can give you the jump start you need in order to experience the recovery you have always wanted. Our holistic programs are unique in that they don’t just treat the addiction, but rather they treat the whole person, so if you are interested in finding out more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call today at 1-877-959-7271.