Steroids are a group of chemical compounds capable of affecting the body’s most basic functions. There are two kinds of steroids: corticosteroids, which are naturally occurring and needed by the body, and anabolic steroids. The latter are synthetic chemicals first produced in the 1930s.
Anabolic steroids were created to treat a condition known as hypogonadism, a condition in which the male testes produce little or no testosterone. They are prescribed by doctors to stimulate muscle growth, trigger puberty, address sexual dysfunction, treat wasting diseases (like AIDS and cancer), and stimulate appetite.
Steroid abuse is commonly observed in people who want to improve athletic performance and/or physical appearance. Abuse is not believed to be rampant among professional athletes as steroids are banned by most athletic associations, with such bands strictly enforced.
Anabolic steroids seem to have a strong attraction to people who suffer from a condition known as muscle dysmorphia. This condition causes individuals to perceive themselves as having a small and weak physique, even if others would consider them to be strong and muscular. Muscle dysmorphia affects both men and women, some of whom take anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass.
It is interesting to note that anabolic steroid abuse is also fairly common among victims of sexual abuse. Studies suggest that abuse victims take steroids to make themselves more muscular in the hopes that predators will find them unattractive and more intimidating, thus reducing the possibility of future sexual attack. Whether those perceptions match reality or not is another matter.
Steroids and the Law
Anabolic steroids are Class C drugs in the UK. It is not illegal to possess them, but they can only be legally obtained from a pharmacy with a prescription from a doctor. Those who abuse them tend to purchase them online under the assumption that it is legal to import them for personal use. Herein lies a juxtaposition in the law.
The law states that steroids can only be imported or exported directly by the parties involved. In other words, it is illegal to have steroids delivered by courier or post. Those who do so, by selling or supplying steroids as third parties, can be prosecuted. Penalties include unlimited fines and prison sentences.
The way the law is written makes it legal to purchase anabolic steroids online, but one would have to go directly to the manufacturer or distributor to pick them up. Having the substances delivered to your home via post is illegal.
Anabolic Steroids and Addiction
It is possible to develop an addiction to anabolic steroids if you use them long enough. The one positive aspect here is that steroids are not as highly addictive as many Class A and B drugs. Not everyone who uses them will develop an addiction.
A person who is addicted to anabolic steroids will demonstrate some, or all, of the following:
- Continued use despite health risks
- Cravings for steroids when not using them
- Neglecting other responsibilities because of steroid use
- Feeling anxious when not using steroids
- Withdrawal symptoms between uses
- Spending significant amounts of money on the drugs.
Anabolic steroid abuse can lead to a number of physical and mental health issues. Studies have found links between steroids and:
- heart attack, hypertension, and stroke
- liver cancer and kidney disease
- chronic hair loss
- nausea, vomiting of blood
- blood clots
- yellowing of the skin and eyes
- high cholesterol.
Long-term steroid abusers tend to experience profound personality changes over time. Some have been known to become violent and aggressive. Permanent physical damage can also occur. Problems like men developing breasts and women experiencing a deepening voice are not uncommon among anabolic steroid abusers.
Treatment for Steroid Addiction
Anabolic steroid addiction continues to be a problem in the UK, despite ongoing efforts to educate people of the dangers associated with these drugs. The misplaced desire to have the ‘perfect’ body can cause young people to ignore the health risks in pursuit of perfection. Older users, desperate to regain their lost youth, may ignore the health risks in order to improve their performance.
It is inadvisable to stop anabolic steroid use suddenly and without the supervision of a doctor. Withdrawal from anabolic steroids may involve certain symptoms that can present a medical emergency serious enough to cause injury or death. Because the body and mind can become dependent on steroids, a rehabilitation programme involving both detox and psychotherapy is usually needed to free oneself completely.
Despite this discomfort, detox is a necessary treatment for anyone who is dependent on anabolic steroids. Before the psychological and emotional aspects of addiction can be addressed, the body has to be allowed to cleanse itself from the chemicals that control it. This is what detox is all about. We recommend medically supervised detox in a private residential facility staffed by medical professionals who have experience with steroid addiction. Medically supervised detox is the safest and most comfortable way to get through withdrawal.
An extended period of psychotherapeutic rehabilitation generally follows detox. The aim of rehab is to help identify the cause of the addictive behaviour and deal with any triggers that may give them future problems. Trained and qualified counsellors providing treatments in residential and outpatient clinics work with patients to create a plan of care designed to be effective for long-term recovery.
Let Us Help
Addiction Helper works with a wide range of organisations throughout the UK offering treatment to anabolic steroid abusers. Treatments include individual and group counselling, 12-step work, cognitive behavioural therapy, and others.
If you or a loved one is struggling with steroid abuse or addiction, call us today. We can assess your situation before providing you with information on how and where to access appropriate treatments. Rest assured your steroid addiction is treatable, no matter how severe you think the addiction is. You can overcome with the right kind of help and support, so contact us today for a free assessment and referral.