Common signs of addiction include cravings for the drug, requiring more drug to get the same effect, and withdrawal symptoms should the drug be stopped. These are all behaviours that can apply to anabolic steroids.
The following is a statement from the National Institute of Drug Abuse concerning anabolic steroids:
“An undetermined percentage of steroid abusers may become addicted to the drugs, as evidenced by their continued abuse despite physical problems and negative effects on social relations. Also, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drugs, which is another indication that they may be addicted. Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking steroids, such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings. The most dangerous of the withdrawal symptoms is depression, because it sometimes leads to suicide attempts. If left untreated, some depressive symptoms associated with anabolic steroid withdrawal have been known to persist for a year or more after the abuser stops taking the drugs.”
What are the psychological and physical side effects of anabolic steroid abuse?
The complications of anabolic steroid abuse are a result of excess testosterone affecting almost all the organ systems in the body. Some of the effects are reversible and decrease when the drug abuse stops while others are permanent and irreversible. Life-threatening side effects include heart attack and stroke, the risk of forming blood clots (deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus), liver cancer, and liver failure.
Infections are a common side effect of steroid abuse because of needle sharing and unsanitary techniques used when injecting the drugs into the skin. These are similar risks to IV drug abusers with increase potential to acquire blood-borne infections such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. Skin abscesses may occur at injection sites and may spread to other organs of the body. Endocarditis or an infection of the heart valves is not uncommon.
Psychiatric and psychologic complications include manic behaviour and psychosis including hallucinations and delusions. Aggressive behaviour is common and is often known as “roid rage”
Because the muscle growth can occur quickly, it can cause stress on the tendons that attach the muscle to bone and anabolic steroid abusers are at risk for tendon rupture.
Anabolic steroids can increase bone production, especially in the skull and face. Teeth can splay apart as the maxilla and mandible grow. There can be overgrowth of the forehead giving an “Incredible Hulk” appearance. If adolescent teenagers abuse steroids before they have finished growing, these drugs can prematurely close bone growth plates, leading to short stature.
If used in this way, they can cause serious side effects and addiction.
Like many other substances, anabolic steroids are addictive. This means you can crave the drug, require more to get the same effect and have withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking them.
A person who is addicted to anabolic steroids will continue using them despite experiencing unpleasant physical side effects.
When doctors prescribe steroid medication, they always advise coming off the medication slowly, by gradually reducing the dose. Coming off anabolic steroids suddenly can result in withdrawal symptoms that include: depression and apathy; feelings of anxiety; difficulty concentrating; insomnia; anorexia; decreased sex drive; fatigue (extreme tiredness); headachesmuscle and joint pain.
Anabolic Steroid Addictions will be addressed at the Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference. Addiction 2015 will be held on the 20 – 22 May 2015 at Outrigger Gold Coast. Addiction 2015 will be hosted by the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association (ANZMH). The Conference is for Addiction treatment professionals, care clinicians, researchers and academics. The Call for Abstracts is open and will close on the 21 November 2014.