Steroid Addiction: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment
What is Steroid Addiction? Steroids are a synthetic hormone, designed to promote an increase in muscle mass.
Anabolic Steroids are most typically used by weightlifters, or professional athletes to gain an edge on the competition.
Opposed to an edge, most find a resulting addiction and side effects, that can be disastrous, causing a tornado of issues for the user, and all those around.
What are Steroids?
Steroids are chemicals designed to increase muscle mass, by raising protein levels found within cells. Anabolic Steroids fall into a class of drugs known as Sex Hormone Antagonist. This means that while taking steroids, your testosterone or estrogen levels are put into flux, rising and falling on an incredibly sporadic level. In simplified terms, Anabolic Steroids recreate the feeling of testosterone in the body, encouraging a responding build of protein and muscle mass. While Steroids do have a high potential for abuse, there are also many good purposes to Anabolic Steroids, such as inducing puberty, or to encourage muscle mass growth for those who suffer from illnesses that prevent it. Unfortunately, Steroid abuse is much more common than medical necessity.
Are Steroids Addictive?
When many people think of drug addiction, thoughts of substances that cause euphoria, or an elevated sense of mood, typically come to mind. While Steroids do not provide euphoria, they are still incredibly addictive, in a different manner. In order to maintain the muscle growth found while using steroids, the user has to continue taking them. If they do not, the muscle mass can begin to convert to fat, causing the user to feel shame or grief, and in turn causes them to continue using steroids. While the mental anguish of losing a built body can be an incredibly hard pill to swallow, joint pains, spasms, and other physical symptoms can occur making it that much more difficult to discontinue use.
How Addictive are Steroids?
Steroids can be incredibly addictive, if not used for the prescribed reasons. Anabolic Steroids increase the bodies testosterone levels, giving users energy and endurance. While this may sound ideal, the brain’s chemistry is changed. The user typically feels superior to those around them, however, patience and tolerance is diminished. This effect typically results in agitation, anger, and depression. As the user typically has developed a larger muscle mass by this point, violent outbreaks, which can happen over the smallest of issues, can be incredibly terrifying, not to mention harmful, for those around the user. Outside of bodybuilding or competitional sports, many users also suffer from a condition known as “Body Dysmorphic Disorder”, causing the user to psychologically believe they do not look well, and in turn seek steroids. In many cases like this, no matter how healthy the person may be, they will never be content with their appearance. Similar to those who become addicted to drugs in pursuit of a high, Steroid users pursue unrealistic goals they will more than likely never obtain, or be satisfied with. As users do not get the “Buzz” users of other drugs experience, pinpointing an addiction can be more difficult. If you are questioning your usage or a loved ones’, it is more than likely time to seek help.
Topical Steroid Addiction
Topical Steroid Addiction is much harder to pinpoint than Anabolic Steroid Addiction. Topical Steroid Addiction primarily occurs in patients who have been prescribed medical creams, such as Cortisone, for skin conditions. While in many cases this is a necessary step to remedy an illness, long term use, typically to maintain the appearance of healthier and younger skin, can result in withdrawals, referred to as Topical Steroid Withdrawal Symptom, or TSW. The side effects of TSW are red and itchy skin, broken blood vessels, acne, adrenaline suppression, and more. Similarly to any withdrawal, these effects cause the user to seek more of the substance, to remedy their issue. While TSW can be an incredibly problematic issue to deal with, the remedy is simply “feeding” the skin with nutrients to promote a quick recovery, such as foods containing Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Zinc, or anything with a low content in chemicals, and a high content in natural vitamins.
Types of Steroids
Throughout this article, we have primarily mentioned Anabolic Steroids, as they are by far the most heavily abused Steroid on the market. There are two additional steroids, on the market, one being Topical Creams, such as Cortisone, mentioned above. The last form of Steroids are Mineralocorticoids, the most well know being Aldosterone. These Steroids are a synthetic version of the chemical produced by the Adrenal Gland. When taken as a medication, these Steroids help the body to regulate blood pressure, plasma sodium, and potassium levels. When these medications are abused however, the Adrenal Gland is pushed into overdrive, resulting in Hyperaldosteronism, or elevated blood pressure. This is the exact opposite purpose of why these Steroids are prescribed, and abusing these medications can result in death for patients who initially sought the medication to regulate blood pressure related issues. Some of the most commonly abused Steroid brands are as follows;
- Deca Durabolin or “Deca”
Who Abuses Steroids?
Steroid Abusers, as with any drug, have a very wide, non discriminatory range. Bodybuilders and competitional athletes are by far the most common, without regard to the potential disqualification from competitions or potential health issues. In addition, people experiencing Body Dysmorphia, dermatology issues, or blood pressure issues may end up becoming trapped in a long term addiction to medications that were prescribed for a brief amount of time, for a specific issues. The most terrifying part of Steroid Abuse is the resulting polar opposite effect of what is desired. Mineralocorticoids, which help with blood pressure regulation, can cause a spike in blood pressure when abused. Anabolic Steroids, taken for muscle growth, can cause lethargy and even weight gain, when abused and taken improperly. Topical Steroids, taken for skin issues, can greatly exacerbate, and even destroy skin cells, when abused. Long term usage, or abuse, of any steroid is a very serious matter that can have grave consequences. If you or a loved one are struggling with steroid abuse of any type, please reach out for help before it is too late.
Recovery From Steroid Abuse
Noticing Steroid Addiction, much less recovery from Steroid Abuse, can be a daunting task. Most drugs of abuse have easy to spot signs, and cause a user to look unhealthy. Some Steroids actually have the ability to make a user look healthier, or in better shape, than previously before, though this is not a long lasting effect. A user who is experiencing withdrawals may feel depressed, agitated, discontent with their appearance, or lethargic. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, reach out to our counselors to collaborate on a treatment plan, tailored to meet your exact needs. Recovery from Steroid abuse is possible, today!