Steroids Withdrawal and Detox
Steroid Withdrawal and Detox: Process, Timeline, Symptoms and Effects
Quitting steroid use after an extended period of time abusing it can cause withdrawal symptoms. Trying to quit cold turkey only results in additional problems. Commonly-abused steroids include glucocorticoids and anabolic steroids, administered in transdermal (patch), injectable, and topical forms. There are many different symptoms that you might experience when withdrawing from taking steroids. They include: weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, decreased appetite, low blood pressure (hypotension), low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and changes to the menstrual cycle.
If you are struggling to cope with the side effects resulting from steroid use, it might be time to withdraw. Also, if you’ve been heavily abusing steroids, a medically supervised detox is the recommended option for withdrawal. Your doctor will be able to prescribe and administer medications as needed during detox. These medications serve various different functions, including lessening withdrawal symptoms and helping to restore normal hormonal balance. Medication for pain and depression can also be provided.
Steroid Withdrawal – What Is It?
When you’re addicted to anabolic steroids, you may experience steroid withdrawal when you quit taking them. This occurs because steroid abuse causes hormonal imbalance in the body. Steroids are designed to mimic testosterone, the male sex hormone, and when you use them, you may become used to having a high level of this hormone, because your body reduces testosterone production in the presence of synthetic testosterone. Steroid withdrawal rarely causes dangerous physical effects, but you might experience severe depression and suicidal thoughts.
During steroid withdrawal, careful monitoring is important because of the potential for suicidal behaviour. If you have a history of depression, you should consider entering inpatient treatment, where caregivers can prescribe medications to help you cope with the withdrawal symptoms. If quickly recognised and treated, the prognosis for steroid withdrawal is generally good. However, without early identification and treatment, further abnormalities may occur, such as electrolyte abnormalities and dehydration.
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Causes of Steroid Withdrawal
Anabolic steroids or androgenic steroids are generally abused to improve performance in sports, build muscle, and reduce body fat. When these drugs are used to achieve such effects, it can boost your self-esteem and confidence, while simultaneously reinforcing your motivation to sustain drug abuse. Although steroids do not cause euphoria like other drugs, they can be just as addictive. Chronic steroid abuse can lead to tolerance and dependence. This means that when you’ve become dependent, trying to quit steroid use can cause steroid withdrawal.
Steroids affect the adrenal glands; their functioning and hormone secretion patterns. This is because the adrenal glands are the source of several steroid hormones. So, when doctors recommend steroids, discontinuation is usually tapered so that the adrenal glands can gradually return to their natural pattern of function and secretion. In the same way, an abrupt stop in the use of steroids can also cause withdrawal symptoms that may be risky and, in some cases, deadly.
Steroid Withdrawal Timeline
Although the timeline for withdrawal will differ from person to person, steroid withdrawal is generally expected to follow this pattern:
Days 1 to 2
Depending on the half-life of the type of steroid, you might start to experience the first symptoms of withdrawal at some point within five days of your last use of the drug. Irritability, nausea, and headaches are some of the symptoms that can occur at this stage.
Days 3 to 5
As soon as the withdrawal symptoms begin to intensify, you might notice less energy and alertness. Also, anxiety, depression, and other psychological symptoms can start to worsen.
Days 6 to 7
In the second week after your last dose of steroids, withdrawal symptoms usually peak. Common symptoms at this stage include weight loss, nausea, and abdominal pains. You may also, at this point, reach the peak of depression and experience insomnia.
You could still experience minor withdrawal symptoms in the second week, but they are usually not as severe as in the first week. After a while, your withdrawal symptoms will start to completely fade out.
Steroid Withdrawal Symptoms and Effects
The duration and level of steroid abuse is linked to the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms. Taking large doses for a long period of time, and in frequent amounts, can result in severe withdrawal symptoms and side effects. Although steroid withdrawal symptoms can be severely uncomfortable, they are not usually life-threatening.
Steroid withdrawal can cause strong cravings, which can result in relapse. The more dangerous effects of withdrawal include mood swings and depression. If you’re experiencing strong feelings of depression, you could be at risk of suicidal thoughts or actions. It is, therefore, necessary to seek professional treatment as soon as possible when you’ve been abusing steroids.
Symptoms of Steroid Withdrawal
When you stop taking steroids, your body needs time to readjust and, at first, it won’t be able to make enough cortisol to make up for the absence of the drug. This can result in steroid withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms of steroid withdrawal can be quite varied and non-specific, and, as a result, treatment providers can find it challenging to diagnose the problem.
Steroid withdrawal symptoms range from severe fatigue and weakness, to body aches and joint pain. The duration of your withdrawal symptoms will depend on how long you’ve been using the substance, but they may last from a few weeks to a year. If you follow your treatment provider’s guidance for gradually tapering your dosage, your withdrawal symptoms can potentially fade away much faster.
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Physical Symptoms of Steroid Withdrawal
Steroid withdrawal causes a variety of physical symptoms that can manifest when you stop taking the drug. It is important to know that you may not experience every possible withdrawal symptom, and that the intensity of your withdrawal will be determined by various different factors, including how long you’ve used the drug. Low blood pressure can occur when you stop taking steroids, and, when it becomes severe, it can lead to dizziness and fainting.
While steroids can help with extreme headaches, withdrawing from them can result in even more severe headaches than initially experienced. Headaches during steroid withdrawal may be constant or in the form of full-blown migraines. Diarrhoea, fever, fatigue and joint pain can also occur during steroid withdrawal. This joint pain results from a lack of cortisol production or from inflammation that can happen in withdrawal. Avoiding intense exercise and physical stress until the pain subsides may be in your best interest.
Psychological Symptoms of Steroid Withdrawal
In addition to the physical symptoms of steroid withdrawal, you may also experience several psychological symptoms. These include:
- Depression – When you quit taking steroids, one of the early psychological symptoms that can appear is depression. Additionally, you may experience a combination of depression and severely low energy due to lack of stimulation. In order to return to normal, your adrenal stores need time to rebuild themselves.
- Anxiety – Depression is one of the most common symptoms, but anxiety can also occur during steroid withdrawal. You may experience feelings of nervousness or intense anxiety during this period.
- Mood swings – Because of the combined feelings of depression, fatigue and low energy, it’s quite normal to experience mood swings during withdrawal. However, as your body recovers, your mind will start to stabilise.
Effects of Steroid Withdrawal
If you abruptly stop taking steroids, or significantly lower your dose, you might experience some of the common effects of steroid withdrawal: body aches, lightheadedness, nausea, joint pain, weakness, severe fatigue, and loss of appetite. Steroids are similar to one of your body’s naturally occurring hormones, produced by your adrenal glands. Taking steroids for more than a few weeks can, therefore, reduce the production of the hormone cortisol in your adrenal glands.
Slowly reducing your steroid dosage allows your adrenal glands to gradually resume their normal function. However, a complete recovery from steroid withdrawal can take weeks or several months. If you’re experiencing the effects of steroid withdrawal, you should contact your doctor or enter into professional detox treatment immediately.
Steroid detoxification is the process of the drug leaving the body, usually through professional means, and it’s the first step towards steroid addiction recovery. A detox facility can help you communicate with addiction treatment specialists, who can administer medication to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce different stressors. In addition, the treatment providers can monitor your safety during withdrawal and provide support as much as possible.
Steroid detoxification can take place in inpatient or outpatient facilities. Normally, detox lasts up to one week, but, if required, treatment can take much longer. If your doctor determines inpatient treatment and medication to be essential to your recovery, they’ll deliver the necessary medication to take care of the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, especially in the case of depression, which may be deadly in some cases. In addition, you’ll have a safe place to deal with the intense detox process, including the constant urge to use drugs.
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Steroid Abuse Detox Process
Suddenly stopping steroids can lead your body to suffer a loss of testosterone. The adjustment period can then cause withdrawal symptoms, which may be mild or severe, depending on your level of addiction. Therefore, tapering off the drug, instead of quitting cold turkey, is recommended. An experienced professional with the knowledge of how to help you stop drug abuse is the most capable of determining the right amount of steroid to begin a taper from. Your doctor will usually recommend a tapering method as part of your detox, especially when you’ve become addicted to using extremely high doses of steroids.
There are several benefits of using the tapering method in the steroid abuse detox process. It allows you to gradually reduce your dose over time so as to avoid a sudden shift in your hormone balance. This means that your body has time to recover and start producing its own testosterone. A tapering detox can even eliminate the effects of withdrawal so that you can easily stop using the drug completely.
Steroid Detoxification Timeline
There are different factors that determine your timeline for steroid detoxification. They include: the length of use, dosage, your health, and your ability to eliminate the drugs from your body. Ridding your body of steroids can’t be rushed, and it also depends on the half-life of the drug. For certain people, this can take anywhere from three days to a week. It may also take longer for other individuals. The timeline for steroid detoxification could look like this:
Day 1 of quitting the drug – As the substance leaves your system initial withdrawal symptoms may appear, such as fatigue, soreness, and a strong desire to use the drug (cravings).
Days 2 to 6 – Cravings intensify, in addition to other physical and mental effects. You may experience insomnia, aches, pains, and mood swings, while symptoms like anxiety and depression will peak.
Days 5 – 14 – At this stage, the effects from detoxing gradually begin to taper off. However, cravings may linger for longer.
Treatment Methods and Options
Even if you’re not experiencing severe symptoms, long-term or chronic steroid use can increase your risk of developing serious health problems in the future. If you are steroid-dependent, there are a number of treatment methods and options you may want to consider:
This treatment method involves round-the-clock monitoring in a live-in facility. This option might be suited to you if there is the possibility that you’ll experience an onset of depression or suicidal thoughts during withdrawal. Also, if you have a particularly long history of steroid use, you should consider choosing inpatient detox.
Medication or Medical Support
Addiction treatment experts can provide medical support to manage the symptoms that appear during and after detox. There are several medications that can be prescribed, from over-the-counter painkillers to antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. Higher levels of non-narcotic pain relievers can also be prescribed to manage symptoms.
Mental illness can put you at an even greater risk of prolonged abuse and relapse. Some common dual-diagnoses associated with steroid abuse include body-dysmorphic disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and depression. Behavioural therapy can, therefore, be used to address these issues while undergoing treatment.
Finding the Right Treatment
While steroid abuse might not cause feelings of euphoria, you can still develop a maladaptive pattern of use through prolonged or chronic use. If you’re unsure whether you need treatment, you can determine problematic steroid use by looking out for the following signs: taking larger or more frequent doses of steroids than intended, developing tolerance, experiencing withdrawal symptoms, and continuing to use steroids in spite of the severe physical or psychological problems they are causing you.
You can usually access medical care through most drug treatment centres. However, when trying to find the right treatment, there are certain features that should be high on your priority list. These include: medically supervised detox, dual diagnosis treatment, medication, and behavioural therapy. If you decide not to enter into inpatient care, you should still be able to get treatment for steroid withdrawal on an outpatient basis.
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Find the Best Residential Steroid Recovery Centre
There are several recovery centres to choose from, especially when you’re trying to find a suitable residential facility. When considering residential steroid recovery centres, there are a few factors to take into consideration:
- Does the centre treat steroid addiction specifically, and is the staff experienced in the relevant methods of treatment? Compared to other addictions such as alcohol, prescription medications, or cocaine, steroid addiction is relatively uncommon, therefore it is important to choose a centre that can handle steroid addiction withdrawal and detox.
- How much does the programme cost, and will the centre accept your insurance? The treatment centre can also help you find out about other financing options, if you don’t have insurance.
- What is the duration of the treatment programme? Some residential centres offer 28, 60 or 90-day programmes. Depending on the severity of your addiction to steroids, a longer residential treatment may provide a more sustainable recovery.
How safe is Home Detox for Steroid Abusers?
It can be tempting to consider home detox for steroid abuse, because the withdrawal symptoms are not particularly life-threatening. However, stopping steroid use cold turkey can significantly increase the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. Sudden halting of the drug can cause a huge shock to your body’s system. Your response to home detox will depend on how long you’ve used the drug, the dosage used, your unique metabolism, and other health factors.
All of these factors notwithstanding, detoxing from steroids on your own is more likely to cause an uncomfortable withdrawal, with more powerful cravings, especially if you’ve become mentally and physically addicted to steroids. Powerful cravings increase the odds that you’ll relapse and return to steroid abuse. The easiest way to avoid this severe withdrawal is to undergo medical detox involving a slow taper. This will allow your body to adapt to the absence of the drug over time.
Self-Detoxification from Steroids
If you’re considering detoxing from steroids, your first step should be to seek medical help and get all the information you need to ensure a safe withdrawal from the drugs. It is essential to note that there are no recognised remedies for steroid withdrawal symptoms. Trying to practice self-detoxification through alternative detox methods could have a negative effect on your own natural hormone production.
In addition, detoxing alone can increase the risk of relapse and continued drug abuse. You might also be unable to safely manage depression or suicidal thoughts if they occur in the process. The safest way to cease steroid use is through a supervised or medically-monitored detox. So, seek professional help as soon as possible, rather than attempting self-detoxification from steroids.
Steroid Addiction Withdrawal and Detox: Facts and Stats
- About 2.9 million to 4 million individuals in the US have used steroids at some point in their lives.
- 57% of teen steroid users admit to being influenced to use these drugs by images in magazines.
- 4 out of 10 teens who used performance-enhancing medications said their decision to use them was inspired by the professional athletes who also used them.
- Steroids are mainly abused by athletes, fitness “fanatics”, and bodybuilders trying to improve their physical appearance and gain competitive advantage.
Ready for Help?
When it comes to steroid addiction withdrawal and detox, you have a wide range of choices. Depending on your situation, your resources, and the severity of your addiction, you can choose from inpatient detox treatment, outpatient detox treatment, support groups or a combination of all of them. It all comes down to you and your personal needs.
If you or a loved one needs help but are still feeling confused or overwhelmed by your options, get in touch with a professional addiction counsellor to help you decide on the best treatment. As long as you’re ready to get clean and stop using steroids, there is help available for you.
Get Answers to Your Questions – Request a Call
The path to recovery from steroid withdrawal can be quite challenging, and the process is more effective when it is individualised and caters to your needs. There are so many aspects to substance abuse recovery that you might be unsure where to start when seeking treatment.
Addiction specialists can help with the parts related to your needs and help you understand what your treatment may require. If you’re ready to take the next step but have many questions, don’t be discouraged. Simply make a call and an experienced counsellor will guide you each step of the way.
Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.
Do I need professional treatment for steroid withdrawal?
Steroid withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and dangerous. If you’ve been abusing these drugs, it is safest to seek professional treatment for withdrawal.
What are the most common symptoms of Red Skin Syndrome (RSS)?
The most common symptoms of Red Skin Syndrome (RSS) include fatigue, anxiety, depression, appetite changes, weight loss or gain, trouble sleeping, red and sore eyes, flaking skin, blisters, oedema (swelling from fluid collecting under the skin), nerve pain, hair loss on the head and body, and increased sensitivity to heat and the cold. You can also experience swollen lymph nodes in the armpits, neck, groin and other parts of your body.
What is a flare?
A flare can appear on your skin during early withdrawal, as the skin turns red, thick, swollen, oozing, and very itchy. They can last from days to months, and also reappear in late withdrawal stages. When a red flare subsides, your skin becomes very rough, dry, flaky, shedding, and it feels like plastic. It is still itchy, but not as itchy as when it’s red. With milder flares, your skin may be wet, have rashes, and be very itchy. This can continue for a while.
Can I have withdrawal on only one part of my body?
In the case of topical steroids, it’s possible to have withdrawal on only one part of your body, if you used only a small amount of the drug on a small body part. This means your whole body will not go through topical steroid withdrawal. Still, the skin is a single organ and “distant” reactions can occur even when steroids are used in only one small area.
Are my allergies getting worse?
You could be making some positive changes but your allergies seem to be getting worse instead of better. This situation can leave you feeling discouraged, or make you think that you’re doing something wrong. If your allergies only seem to be getting worse, you could be undergoing a healing crisis, caused by toxins are being eliminated from your body.
Are elevated IgE levels normal during RSS?
Elevated IgE levels during RSS are normal, and they are expected to gradually return to normal with recovery. However it is crucial to speak with your doctor to ensure that other causes of elevated IgE are ruled out. The accuracy of allergy tests done with a blood sample can be affected by elevated IgE levels and skin prick allergy testing can also be inaccurate, or even impossible, due to severe redness and skin sensitivity during RSS.
Will I have eczema after I’ve recovered from RSS?
While it may be possible to recover from RSS without having any remaining eczema, it depends on how much of your condition was caused by steroids. It’s therefore possible to still have eczema and other skin conditions after you recover from RSS. Withdrawal from topical steroids is simply a way to manage RSS and should not be regarded as a treatment or a “cure” for eczema.
Will getting some sun help?
Some people can benefit from getting sun, but it is not a guaranteed healing method. Sun may be recommended in late stages of RSS after flares have subsided and when the skin is no longer pink or red. In any case, it is important to be careful to avoid getting too much sun or raising your temperature significantly.
What about UVB light therapy?
Narrowband UVB light therapy is not recommended if you’re in the early stages of withdrawal. However, it has proven to be helpful in later stages of RSS.
Is it normal to feel panicked or anxious?
Withdrawal usually comes with feelings of panic and anxiety. It is an overwhelming and lengthy process involving the largest organ on the human body. It also affects every part of you: from the way you look to whether you are able to function normally. If you’re feeling panicked or anxious, having a good support system, including family and friends, can help.
What causes such an intense itch?
The intense itch that comes with RSS is believed to be caused by blood vessels and nerve endings in the skin starting to function properly again. Topical steroids cause vasoconstriction, or the shrinkage of the tiny blood vessels which relieves the pain of inflammation. However, when your body becomes accustomed to treatment, those blood vessels vasodilate, or widen. This is what leads to the unpleasant feelings of burning and itching.
Will the itch ever stop?
Yes, the itch will stop after a period of time. As you progress through the different stages of withdrawal, it will become more tolerable. It is more intense in the first few months of withdrawal than in the later months.
Should I try not to scratch?
It may be impossible to stop scratching. Even though you’ll have a strong urge to scratch, it is better to do so with care. As much as possible, try to limit scratching so that you don’t cause more damage to your skin, which can cause open wounds or a skin infection.
Can anyone tell I’m ssing steroids?
The physical and behavioural side effects of using steroids can make it impossible for them to be used secretly. Even if you try to use them secretly, it can’tt be hidden forever. Continued use amplifies the observable effects of steroids. The easiest way to prevent drug abuse from becoming noticeable is to get professional treatment as soon as possible.
Is there a safer way to scratch?
Although you’ll have an undeniable need to scratch, a “safe scratch” plan can help you prevent developing wounds and infections. You can use a rubber comb to relieve itching, and it will not break the skin, especially when you scratch with only light pressure. Remember to rinse your comb in hot water and use alcohol to sterilise it. Doing so in the morning and at night can help you avoid an infection.
How long do steroid withdrawal symptoms last?
Typically, steroid withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. Your body has become used to the effects of steroids and it can take time to rid your system of the substance. The symptoms of continued steroid use are not easy to escape and, without medical supervision, withdrawal can be a painful and even dangerous.
What recovery programme is right for me?
There are several programmes designed to help you break free of steroid addiction and get back on your feet. The best recovery programme for you will depend on different factors, including your level of addiction. However, inpatient steroid addiction is recognised as the most effective form of treatment programme with 24 hour care and other crucial services.
Do symptoms and their duration vary from person to person?
The symptoms of withdrawal and their duration typically vary from person to person. Depending on your body makeup, they can begin while you’re still using steroids or show up only days or weeks after you’ve quit taking them. Some of the common symptoms include burning, redness and stinging of the skin. A rash may first appear in the area where you used the steroid, before spreading to other parts of your body.
How long does steroid withdrawal last?
Steroid withdrawal can last from a few months to a year or more after quitting use. Symptoms like major depression can linger for over a year, while hypogonadism can be resolved within a few weeks.
Can I get help for steroid addiction?
If you’re addicted to steroids, help is available. Medical professionals can monitor you for suicidal behaviour while you undergo detoxification. Mental health counselling and therapy can also teach you how to function without resorting to drug use.
Are there any home remedies for getting clean safely?
If you’re looking for relief from steroid withdrawal symptoms, it’s recommended to seek medical help. There are no approved home remedies for getting clean safely from drugs like steroids. Trying to use alternative detox methods may also have negative consequences for your own natural hormone production. The right treatment can provide you with the information and support you need to ease off the medication.
How long does it take to detox from steroids?
As a result of interrupted hormone production, detox can take several weeks or months. A supervised medical detox is the safest way to quit using steroids and allow your body to heal.
What happens during stimulant detox?
When you visit a detox centre, you and your doctor will meet to plan an individualised treatment procedure. The aim of stimulant detox is to clear all of the toxins from your body. Detoxing from stimulants occurs very quickly, and depending on the dose and frequency of use, it can be completed within a couple of days. A key component of stimulant detox is professional monitoring. It can be difficult to cope with the symptoms of psychological withdrawal on your own, and having support during stimulant detox can contribute to the success of the process.
Why should I enter a stimulant detox programme?
A Stimulant Detox Programme is the best idea for recovering from an addiction to stimulant medication. Even though stimulant detox rarely poses serious health risks, significant mood changes, from intense depression to suicidal thoughts may occur. Stimulant detox programmes can be tailored to your individual psychological needs and they increase your chances of long-lasting recovery.
What is steroid withdrawal?
Steroids are a man-made or synthetic version of testosterone, the male sex hormone. They are not abused to get “high”, but as a means to improve the appearance of the body. Steroids do not cause a rush, but prolonged use can result in dependence, withdrawal, and eventually addiction.
What are the types of steroid withdrawal?
The type of steroid withdrawal you experience will depend on your body’s reaction to the drug. Steroid withdrawal can occur while you’re taking the drug (in lesser amounts than your normal dose) or after you quit using it.
When will I stop craving steroids?
Cravings occur during withdrawal, in addition to other physical and mental effects. Cravings are usually the last symptom to taper off when the effects of withdrawal begin to fade away. If your treatment involves tapering you off steroids, it can make your withdrawal last even longer, but the likelihood of severe symptoms will be reduced.
Can you die from steroid withdrawal?
There are a number of reasons why steroid withdrawal can result in death, even though it is rare. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these reasons include: injection of steroids which increases the risk of hepatitis or HIV/AIDS, weakening of the heart and stroke from steroid use, and weakening of the immune system leading to vulnerability to serious diseases.
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