Steroids Symptoms and Warning Signs

Steroids or anabolic steroids are commonly abused drugs used to enhance both performance and appearance. As they mimic the effects of testosterone, which is the male hormone, they are regularly abused by those who want to build muscle mass and lose fat. Athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders have all been known to use steroids to improve their body shape as well as to (illegally) enhance their performance levels.

Nevertheless, aside from all the above, steroids have a very high potential for abuse and users suffering low self-esteem and body dysmorphia are more susceptible than most. Teenage boys are particularly vulnerable to steroid abuse as many see themselves as not big or muscly enough and are hence desperate to improve their physique.

Since steroids have the potential to boost strength as well as confidence in the user, there is a strong urge to use them over and over, which can then result in a substance use disorder. It should be known though that abuse of steroids can have devastating consequences for both mental and physical health.

Type of Steroids

Below are some of the names that anabolic steroids are sold under:

  • Delatestryl
  • Anadrol-50
  • Fortesta
  • Androderm
  • Android
  • Testim
  • Androxy
  • Oxandrin
  • Testro AQ
  • Vogelxo

Recognising the Common Warning Signs of Steroid Abuse

If you have been using steroids to change the way you look and feel if you haven’t already then you could be in danger of developing a serious problem. Although any use of such medication without a prescription is construed as abuse if your use of steroids is causing you harm and if is affecting daily life, you may already have a problem.

Anabolic steroids are used medically to treat conditions such as low testosterone, but most people use them off prescription, which itself is automatically classed as abuse. If you are buying steroids online and/or are taking more than the recommended dosage to boost your results, you are abusing these drugs.

Prolonged regular use of steroids can lead to mood swings, commonly referred to as ‘roid rage’. You might also notice symptoms such as enlarged breasts or rapid muscle gain. But one of the major signs that your use has reached problematic levels is the appearance of acne, particularly if your skin was clear before you began using the drugs.

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The Dangers of Steroid Abuse

The problem with steroid abuse is that many of these types of drugs can have very serious side effects. While there is a case for medical use in certain instances, such as to induce puberty or to relieve suffering in patients with conditions such as AIDS or cancer, the use of steroids to boost physical performance or appearance is dangerous.

Steroids are basically a synthetic form of the male hormone testosterone, so among other things, abuse of them can affect gender characteristics. Some individuals take these drugs at levels that are up to one hundred times higher than the medically approved dose, which as you can imagine produces many adverse side effects.

Women who take steroids might start to notice excessive hair growth and a deepening of their voice. Men could experience shrinking testicles and a growth of breast tissue. Steroid abuse can also result in heart problems and fertility issues.

Long-term use of steroids facilitates changes in the brain that can affect mood. It is not uncommon for steroid users to suffer paranoia, delusions, and aggression (the above-mentioned roid rage). It can also increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes significantly. A couple of other serious physical health problems associated with steroid abuse are kidney failure and liver tumours.

Continued regular use of steroids, as with many other prescription medications and other drugs, can lead to a dependency, at which stage you may be unable to function without the substance.

Recognising a Steroid Addiction

It can be hard to tell when steroid use has become a problem, particularly if you are using these drugs regularly as part of your exercise or muscle-building routine. However, if steroids are starting to impact daily life, you have an issue.

Your behaviour may start to change, and you might experience mood swings.

You could also find that you are becoming obsessed with steroid use and that it is getting in the way of everything else. If you are neglecting everything else in your life because of your steroid use, it could be that addiction has already kicked in.

You might also notice that when you stop taking steroids you experience an overwhelming urge to take them again. Even when you are experiencing negative side effects from your use, you will feel a pull that can prove impossible to resist. This happens when you develop a physical or psychological dependency.

Steroid Addiction and the Brain

The way in which steroids affect the brain is still relatively unknown to science, but in many individuals, it triggers aggressive behaviour. It is thought that this is to with the hypothalamus area of the brain, which is directly affected by steroid use. The hypothalamus is responsible for testosterone production, mood regulation, and appetite control.

The perceived advantage of steroids among many users is that it helps them not only feel but to also look better; if you are such an individual, you may develop a fervent desire to keep using them because of these reasons. It is thought that steroids activate neurotransmitters within the brain’s pleasure centres, causing dopamine to be released. These are the hormones responsible for feelings of pleasure. Dopamine production also stimulates the reward centre of the brain.

Learn the Immediate Side Effects of Steroid Abuse

The following are some of the immediate side effects of steroid abuse:

  • Mood swings
  • Muscle development
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Acne
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Decreased appetite.

Learn the Long-Term Steroid Abuse Side Effects

Long-term use of anabolic steroids can result in some of the following extremely serious side effects:

  • Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Liver tumours
  • Kidney failure
  • Blood-borne diseases.

Intervention for a Steroid Addiction

If someone you know is abusing steroids, the first thing you will probably notice is that he or she has gained weight or muscle quite quickly. You might perceive a growth of facial hair if this person is female, and an outbreak of acne could also be noticeable.

In whatever way you have noticed steroid abuse, it is important to tackle the subject sooner rather than later. Steroid abuse can have many harmful consequences as you can see from the side effects listed above, so it is important to deal with the situation as soon as possible.

You should raise your concerns with the affected individual, but do not be surprised if you are met with angry denials. It is highly likely that he or she will believe steroids to be helping them rather than it being a hindrance. What you need to do is explain why you believe that an addiction has developed and encourage this person to speak to a professional about treatment. You can always get in touch with us for more advice and information about the next steps that can be taken.

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Detox and Withdrawal from Steroids

If you stop using steroids, you are likely to experience a strong desire to take them again. You might also suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms that will make you feel unwell. These can include insomnia, deep depression, and anxiety. Headaches and muscle pain can also be a major problem.

While the physical symptoms associated with steroid withdrawal are rarely life-threatening, you could be at risk of severe depression, which could become quite intense. There is a risk, therefore, that you could start feeling suicidal, so it is very highly recommended to detox in a supervised facility. Detox clinics are staffed with individuals who have experience in helping people to overcome all types of addiction, including steroid addictions. Detoxing within a dedicated facility is a safer and more comfortable experience all around.

Treatment and Next Steps

You might find it hard to come to terms with the fact that your steroid use has become a problem. Most people who use these drugs see them as something that is of huge benefit to them. Even when these are causing serious negative side effects, they will be reluctant to give them up.

Nevertheless, steroid addiction can have devastating consequences to health, and so a detox is just the first part of the process.

There could be an underlying issue that led you to start using steroids in the first place, so these issues must be dealt with to help you recover fully. This usually happens with a programme of rehabilitation, where you will be treated with various therapies, such as behavioural and talking therapies, to get to the root of your problem and help you learn how to live without steroids going forward.

If you have been abusing steroids with other substances or if you are also suffering a mental health condition, you may need to consider an inpatient treatment programme as your requirements will be more complex. You can contact us to get a clearer understanding of what you are dealing with and the type of programme that will be most suited to your needs.

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Questions about Treatment

How long will I be in treatment for?

A. The length of your treatment programme will depend on how severe your addiction is and what other requirements you have. Inpatient programmes generally last for between four and twelve weeks. Most people will be ready to return home after four weeks, with additional support available on a day care basis thereafter. However, those with more complex needs will require a longer stay.

If you choose an outpatient programme, you can expect treatment to take much longer. This is because this sort of programme is less intensive, and you will have fewer treatment hours each week. These programmes can last from several months to more than a year.

How can I find a good rehab provider?

A. Finding a good rehab provider is not as easy as it might initially sound because you might not know what to look for and what your treatment needs are. Fortunately, we can help you. We can assess your situation and put you in touch with a rehab provider to meet all your needs.

We work with various providers such as the NHS, charities, local support groups, and private clinics to give you more choice.

What is the best programme for me?

A. The best type of programme is the one that best meets all your needs and preferences. If your addiction is severe and you believe you will struggle with recovery on a day care basis, you should consider a residential programme. Nevertheless, you should be aware that most inpatient programmes are provided by private clinics.

Having said that, there are some distinct benefits to choosing this type of programme. For example, if you want to get started on your programme of recovery immediately, a private programme is the best option. This is because most free programmes come with a lengthy waiting list as the demand far outweighs the supply.

There is a lot to think about when choosing a programme of rehabilitation. You must consider how severe the illness is, what commitments you have at home and at work, your budget, and your personal preferences. The best programme will be the one that meets all these needs.

How much does rehab cost?

A. If you choose private treatment, you can expect a four-week programme to cost between £4,000 and £6,000 on average. However, some rehab providers charge less than this while others charge a lot more.

Who pays for addiction treatment?

A. Addiction treatment is provided by both public and private organisations here in the UK, so you can choose a free programme or one that you must pay for yourself. Free programmes are offered by the NHS and charities, while private programmes will need to be funded by you.

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