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Steroid Addiction

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Steroid Addiction

steroid-addictionUnderstanding the Dangers of Steroid Abuse

Since its development in the 1930s, anabolic steroids have become more steadily used in sports and workout gyms. Many people are unaware of the dangers that this illegal drug can cause and as a result, steroid abuse and addiction is common. Through the care of experienced clinicians, steroid addiction is a condition that is able to be treated.

 What are Steroids?

The drug was initially developed to help patients with hypogonadism, a condition in which abnormal testosterone function and sexual dysfunction occurs. There is often confusion between anabolic steroids and corticosteroids, which is a medication used to treat overactive immune response. Anabolic steroids is mostly used to build muscle mass, and therefore it is often used by athletes and body builders. It is a hormone, and when large amounts of it become present in the body due to excessive use, an imbalance is created and several consequences can occur. 

Generally, steroids are taken in the form of a pill, injected into the muscles or used directly on the skin as a cream or gel. It is a Schedule III drug in the United States, which means that it serves a medical purpose but also has a moderate chance for abuse and addiction. Common names include juice, roids, hype, gym candy, pumpers, stackers and bulls.

Signs of Steroid Addiction

Signs of steroid abuse become more noticeable as the person’s muscle begins to build due to excessive use of the drug. Some of the common signs that steroid abusers exhibit include the following:

  • Aching joints
  • Bad Breath
  • Nervousness
  • Trembling
  • Yellowish skin
  • Swelling around the feet
  • Mood swings

Health risks Involved with Steroid Abuse

  While some of the risks involved with steroid abuse only affect a person’s physical appearance, there are other, more serious threats that repeated use can have on an individual’s health.

  • The hormonal system – There are both reversible and irreversible consequences that can occur over long term steroid use. Reversible changes include a lowered sperm production and shrinking of the user’s testicles, also known as testicular atrophy. Fluctuations that cannot be changed include, breast development in males and male-pattern baldness. One study revealed that, as many as half of the male body-builders in the test group had testicular atrophy.
  • Cardiovascular system – Due to the effect that steroids have on the body’s normal function, cardiovascular disease is often associated with its use. This includes strokes and heart attacks, even in physically fit individuals in their 20s. The changes that occur to lipoproteins cause the blood to carry cholesterol and deposit it in arteries, disrupting blood flow.
  • Liver – Internal bleeding can be triggered by blood-filled cysts that develop in the liver, known as Peliosis Hepatis.
  • Infections – When non-sterile needles are used for injections, steroid production is often carried out in a contaminated environment, which creates a high risk for infection. Several diseases and viral infections are possible, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and bacterial infections such as endocarditis.

 Steroid Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms

It can be difficult to distinguish withdrawal symptoms from other medical conditions. Withdrawal symptoms have been commonly reported to occur when discontinuing steroid use. They include the following:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Vomiting, nausea and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint pain and muscle aches
  • Fever

Treatment for Steroid Abuse and Addiction

While there are few studies that indicate the best approach to treating a steroid addiction, there are experienced clinicians available to educate addicts on ways to overcome it.

Supportive therapy has proven to be successful in many cases. This method provides the patient with information regarding withdrawal and what to expect during the detox process. The patient will be monitored for any suicidal thoughts or behaviors and if the symptoms of withdrawal become severe, hospitalization is often needed.

Medications are often used to restore normal hormonal function in the body to disrupt the withdrawal process. A patient may also be given medication to help with the depression and suicidal thoughts that can occur during recovery.

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