anabolic steroids needle exchange

How do Anabolic Steroids Differ from other Illegal Drugs?

There are more than one hundred varieties of anabolic steroids. “Anabolic” refers to muscle building, and these types of steroids are variations on testosterone. 

Anabolic steroids may be prescribed legitimately by a doctor as a hormonal treatment. Steroids have a wide range of use from treading diseases that can result in muscle loss to cancer and AIDS. 

Like many substances that have legitimate uses, anabolic steroids have the potential for abuse. Those who commonly misuse or abuse anabolic steroids include weightlifters. It should be noted that it is statistically much more likely for men to abuse these particular types of steroids than women. In general, it is difficult to pin down measurements for steroids abuse as many national surveys in the United States do not measure this. 

Steroid misuse and abuse should be taken seriously. Trying to look fit and muscular without putting in the time and effort it takes to properly bodybuild is not going to produce positive long-term effects. In fact, those who have not developed healthy habits around fitness are unlikely to maintain an effective exercise routine. 

It might be tempting to think that in a short amount of time you can develop abs or increase muscle mass and have a “ripped” appearance. The downside is much more extreme and the risks and consequences can be detrimental and potentially fatal. Long-term abuse of steroids can result in extremely negative physical and mental health consequences including organ damage and increased risk of heart disease. 

If you or someone you know is abusing steroids it’s best to kick the habit and learn healthy ways to exercise and stay fit sooner rather than later. Reach out to the professionals at Oasis Recovery today to speak with a specialist about treatment options for recovery. 

How are Anabolic Steroids Misused and Abused?

Anabolic steroids can be taken orally or injected directly into muscle tissue. They can also be applied to the skin as a cream or gel. Those who intentionally abuse anabolic steroids usually take doses that are ten to one hundred times the prescribed dose for medically responsible purposes. 

Common ways in which anabolic steroids are misused and abused include:

  • Cycling
    • Taking multiple doses, briefly ceasing use, then restarting
  • Stacking
    • Mixing two or more different steroids
    • Mixing oral or injectable steroids 
  • Pyramiding
    • Slow increase in abuse, reaching a maximum dose, then gradually tapering 
  • Plateauing
    • Switching, mixing, or substituting different steroids or how they are taken in to avoid developing tolerance

Types of Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids come in pills, injectable liquids, topical creams, and topical gels. There are a number of slang terms for these types of steroids which include: Juice, Stackers, Hype, and Roids. 

Common brand names of anabolic steroids include Anadrol-50, Oxandrin, Winstrol, Anavar, Dianabol, and Equipoise. Equipoise is a medication that is intended for veterinary use, however, it is commonly abused by people looking for less expensive and more easily available options than conventional steroids.  

Anabolic steroids can be dangerous when combined with other drugs. Examples include cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), amphetamines medications such as Adderall and Ritalin, marijuana, opiates, and alcohol. 

Combining steroids with uppers like cocaine and other stimulants can provide a short-term energy boost and suppress appetite but increase risk and can lead to elevated heart rate and blood pressure which can be extremely dangerous. 

Those who abuse steroids and alcohol have been known to commit violent acts and crimes. 

Common Signs and Symptoms of Anabolic Steroid Abuse

Abusing anabolic steroids can have negative consequences on both physical and mental health. Common symptoms can include:

  • Lack of judgment 
  • Irritability 
  • Aggression (commonly referred to as “roid rage”) 
  • Paranoia 
  • Delusions 
  • Mania

Long-term and, in some cases, irreparable damage can be caused by misuse or abuse of anabolic steroids. These include:

  • Kidney problems 
  • Liver damage 
  • Tumors
  • Enlarged heart
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Increased risk of stroke, heart attack, or other heart problems
    • It’s important to note even young people are susceptible  
  • Increased risk of blood clots

Gender-specific risks and side effects vary. 

For men, side effects and risks may include:

  • Shrinking testicles
  • Decreased sperm count
  • Baldness
  • Development of breasts
  • Increased risk of prostate cancer

For women, side effects and risks may include:

  • Growth of facial hair
  • Growth of excess body hair
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Deepened voice 
  • Changes in menstrual cycle
  • Enlarged clitoris 

Teenagers and young adults who abuse steroids have the potential to have stunted growth and height. 

How do Anabolic Steroids Differ from other Abused Drugs?

Anabolic steroids are not addictive in the same way as other illegal drugs. Steroids are not typically abused for the sake of achieving a “high” or related euphoric effects. Rather, they are typically abused to rapidly build body muscle. 

Some research has indicated that there are gateway risks associated with steroid abuse. These include the temptation to abuse opioids to avoid sleep problems and irritability or rage that is caused by steroid misuse and abuse. 

Those who are withdrawing from anabolic steroid misuse or abuse may experience and show the following signs:

  • Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep problems
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Depression
  • Increased suicidality 

Who is Most at Risk?

Those who have previously struggled with substance abuse disorders (SUDs) or have issues with body dysmorphia, including conditions such as anorexia and bulimia, are at higher risk for misusing and abusing steroids. 

According to recent studies, 1 in 50 high school seniors abuse steroids, 77% of college students have admitted to experimenting with steroids while also abusing at least one other substance, and approximately 9% of NFL players have admitted to abusing steroids at some point during their career. 

One of the problems with steroid abuse is that people often find that they lose pleasure in their ability to enjoy activities that once brought them joy. Steroid abuse can cause tolerance resulting in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that can fuel the cycle of abuse.

Seek Treatment for Anabolic Steroid Abuse Today

There are many treatments and therapeutic recovery options available for those who have had problems with anabolic steroid misuse and abuse. Behavioral therapy has been found to be an effective form of counseling for those who have abused steroids. There are medications that can help with withdrawal and cravings. 

If you or someone you care about is abusing steroids, early intervention can make a significant difference in preventing the risks of long-term abuse. Reach out to Oasis Recovery today to speak with a specialist about treatment options. We offer a wide range of treatment programs and therapies that are designed to meet the individual needs of our clients. We look forward to helping you get your life back on track. 

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