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Side Effects of Steroid Abuse

We have all heard the term “roid rage” or knew of someone who was so extra muscular that you suspected they may be using steroids. Anabolic steroids are, in fact, a synthetic form of testosterone (the male sex hormone). “Anabolic” refers to building muscle. If you suspect you are suffering from steroid abuse, contact Better Addiction Care now at (800) 429-7690 and get the help you need finding treatment centers.

4 Minute Read | Published Sep 28 2023 | Updated Mar 10 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
David Levin
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
David Levin
Reviewed by

A Look into Steroid Abuse and How to Spot a Steroid User

Common names for steroids include “Roids,” Juice, Stackers, and Gear. Bodybuilders and athletes commonly abuse steroids because of the fact that they can enhance performance and their physical appearance. While some individuals are guilty of steroid abuse, others are legitimately prescribed steroids to help with certain issues. Steroids help treat delayed puberty for those that suffer from hormonal imbalances.

Cancer and AIDS patients are, at times, prescribed steroids to assist with muscle loss associated with their illnesses. If you suffer from chronic asthma, you are all too familiar with being prescribed a type of steroid when you have a flair up – or to save your life during an emergency room visit. If you have taken these medications you also know what you experience after you have finished your prescribed dosage (even after weening off). Body aches and bloating are common after-effects.

Methods of Abuse

Typically, steroids can be injected directly into the muscles or taken orally. Additionally, steroids can be rubbed into the skin (cream or gel) or by placing a patch on the skin. As is the case with most drug abusers, these individuals believe that they can minimize (or avoid) undesirable side effects while maximizing the effects. It is worth mentioning that no scientific evidence exists saying that any of these methods below actually reduces the dangerous effects.

  • “Pyramiding” This method involves the individual slowly upping their dose (or frequency), reaching a peak, and then tapering off, gradually.
  • “Cycling” refers to abusing for a period of time, taking a break, and picking up again.
  • “Stacking” is when people take two or more combinations of steroids.

Steroid Abuse Symptoms

Steroid abuse is no laughing matter. It is all fun and games when one is big and bulky, but these individuals do not realize that, over time, steroid abuse may lead to mental health issues. These include delusions, impaired judgment, extreme irritability, paranoid jealousy. “Roid rage” is when the person is suffering from an extreme mood swing that can end in violence. In addition to mental problems, steroid abuse may lead to swelling of the hands and feet and severe acne.

Long term effects of steroids vary by gender. This type of drug abuse can lead to permanent and irreversible health issues such as liver damage, kidney failure, high blood pressure, enlarged heart, changes in blood cholesterol. All of these issues increase the risk of heart attack (and stroke) regardless of your age.

Long-Term Effects of Steroids

In men:

  • shrunken testicles (no, it is not a myth)
  • man boobs
  • low sperm count
  • balding
  • risk of prostate cancer

Some of these side effects may add to the mental effects associated with steroid abuse. Shrunken testicles, for example, may lead to depression in men – and being extraordinarily hairy may cause the same in women.

In women:

  • enlarged clitoris
  • deeper voice
  • male-pattern baldness
  • interruptions to the menstrual cycle
  • growth of facial hair and extra hair all over the body

Although steroids do not produce a high akin to the other types of drugs, they can be addictive. Individuals do not stop using even if the drug use has caused issues to them financially, physical issues, and negative impacts on everyone around them. Additionally, research has shown that steroids may be a gateway to other drugs, like opioids, to aide in sleeping properly (caused by steroids). Withdrawal symptoms associated with cessation of anabolic steroids include:

  • cravings
  • loss of appetite
  • mood swings
  • fatigue
  • restlessness
  • abnormal sex drive (low)
  • issues sleeping
  • Depression – which sometimes lead to suicide attempts.

Addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease. If you abuse steroids, please seek help.


bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse
"Anabolic Steroids and Other Appearance and Performance Enhancing Drugs (APEDs)"
Retrieved on June 13, 2017

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