Anabolic steroids are man-made drugs that do have some legitimate uses but are often abused by those who want to increase their muscle mass to look better or improve their sports performance. While anabolic steroids do not produce the same high as other drugs by flooding dopamine receptors, the drugs can become addictive in a similar way.
Anabolic Steroid Misuse
Anabolic steroids can be taken orally, absorbed through the skin in patch or cream form, or injected directly into the muscle. When people take anabolic steroids for non-medical reasons, they typically use 10 to 100 times the amount that would normally be prescribed, which has a profound impact on the body and eventually causes damage to it.
Although in the short term, anabolic steroids do cause muscles to build up and strength to increase, that effect is temporary and reverses itself over time even if you stop taking the drug. In addition, use of steroids can impact other parts of the body and even the mind.
Long-term use of steroids can cause male reproductive organs to shrink and sperm count to decrease, which could lead to future infertility. Kidney and liver damage are also common as well as an enlarged heart or cardiovascular disease even in the young. Premature hair loss is also common for both men and women, and women may grow facial hair and have a deepened voice. Acne and swelling of the hands and feet may also occur.
Mentally, steroid misuse causes mood swings and irritability, which has led to the nickname "roid rage" for this side effect. Delusions, paranoid jealousy, and impaired judgment can also result from the use of steroids, adding to their danger. Unfortunately, these mental and psychological effects can last long after the steroid use ends.
Steroid use is often combined with other products designed to build muscle mass or improve health, like amino acids, stimulants, and energy drinks, or with other drugs, which can exacerbate psychological symptoms in some cases and make substance use disorders more likely.
Treating Steroid Addiction
Behavioral therapy is most commonly used to treat addiction to anabolic steroids, both to handle cravings or urges to use the drug and to work through the reasons why a person would feel compelled to even begin using such a harmful drug. Self-esteem and self-worth may have been low before the drug was used, and are likely to spiral further downward after use ends and the body deteriorates.
Sometimes, steroid use leads to mental health disorders, particularly mood disorders like depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and even mania, psychosis, or suicidal ideation. These disorders need to be treated concurrently with the addiction in order to keep the user stabilized over the long term.
Medications are sometimes used for ongoing muscle pain, treatment of cardiovascular symptoms, and mental health symptoms like depression. Some of the long-term effects of the drug may be irreversible, but there is a lot that treatment professionals can do to help improve quality of life for those who have abused steroids.
The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake provides Colorado addiction treatment for anabolic steroid misuse along with co-occurring treatment for mental health disorders when they occur. Contact us today to find out more.