The Harmful Effects Of Anabolic Steroids

Even though steroids are used to treat some medical ailments, they have many ill effects on our body and steroid abuse is definitely a “no-no”.

So what makes the use of steroids really bad?

Knowing steroids

Anabolic steroids are very different as compared to corticosteroids. While corticosteroids are used to suppress and control swelling and autoimmune responses in the body, anabolic steroids are used to build up the muscle. Anabolic steroids affect the entire human body as they are potent hormones.

Prescribing steroids

Many medical conditions can be treated by the use of anabolic steroids. For instance, these steroids are used to treat patients suffering from AIDS to prevent the muscles from atrophying. Problems like delayed puberty can also be treated using anabolic steroids. However, doctors cannot prescribe steroids to enhance the performance of athletes.

Legality of steroids

It is illegal to sell, distribute or possess anabolic steroids for a medical condition without a doctor's prescription, also look into Anabolic steroids. Possession and trafficking of steroids are illegal and is against the federal law.

Anabolic steroids

Also called “roids” or “juice”, anabolic androgenic steroids or anabolic steroids that are used by athletes to build strength and muscle mass is synthetic testosterone or the male hormone.

Testosterone mainly acts on the body in two ways:

  • Androgenic effects: They are responsible for the male characteristics like deep voice and facial hair.
  • Anabolic effects: This promotes the bulking up of the muscle mass.

While the body naturally produces testosterone to regulate some functions of the body, introducing more of the hormone unnaturally can be hazardous. Apart from being used for some medical purposes, anabolic steroids are commonly used by people to change their appearance, their physical health and/or enhance their performance. These steroids can be taken in the form of injections, pills or topical creams.

People who commonly use anabolic steroids are:

  • Athletes to enhance their performance and recover very quickly from a vigorous workout by reducing the damage to the muscles during the session.
  • Body builders to build their muscles.
  • People attempting to accelerate their recovery from some injury.

The short-term effects of anabolic steroids

Mostly, anabolic steroids are used and abused by people who are seeking rapid muscle growth and superior physical performance. However, these effects are accompanied by many unpleasant effects in the interim including:

  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Yellowing of skin
  • Oily skin and scalp
  • Baldness
  • Reduced appetite
  • Sleeping troubles
  • Acne
  • Swelling and infection in injection sites in the muscles

Side effects of anabolic steroids

As anabolic steroids are essentially synthetic forms of testosterone, they can have several effects on the gender of the person taking the steroids.

Effects of anabolic steroids in men

  • Development of breasts
  • Shrinking of testicles
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Infertility
  • Impotence

Effects of anabolic steroids in women

  • Excessive growth of facial and body hair
  • Deepening of voice
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Reduced breast size
  • Fertility problems

Effects of anabolic steroids in teenagers

  • May not grow tall due to halted bone development.
  • Girls may experience masculinisation in the long run.

Overdosing on steroids

Long-term usage of anabolic steroids may have a cumulative effect and in the long run can lead to chronic problems like steroid overdose. This can be extremely hazardous and can have harmful effects on both your mental as well as physical health.

Effects of steroids in the long run

There are several side effects that are caused by the abuse of steroids which are manifested as change in physical appearance and a change in the behaviour of people. However, some side effects of steroid abuse cannot be seen. The use of steroids can cause many changes in the brain in the long-term that impact the supply and production of chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. These alterations in the brain can cause modifications in the behaviour and mood in people. The long-term effects of steroids are:

  • Paranoia
  • Heart problems such as heart attack, enlarged heart, stroke, etc.
  • Substantial risk of liver cancer and liver disease
  • Increase in “bad” cholesterol levels
  • Aggression and anger (or “roid” rage)
  • Delusions
  • Kidney problems and failure
  • Diseases that are blood-borne such as hepatitis or HIV can be caused by repeated injection usage

Dependence on steroids

The use and abuse of steroids can cause dependency and addiction in the long run. This dependency is usually revealed by the behaviour and feeling that the person cannot perform normally without the use of the steroids and overuse of these steroids generally cause an increase in the hormones in the body, which can cause severe side effects. 

Like any other addiction, when the person stops using steroids, there is a strong urge to start taking them again and this happens even if there are severe and unpleasant side effects occurring in the body. In such cases, it may be necessary that the person undergoes withdrawal treatment or de-addiction. The de-addiction program must be administered and supervised by a doctor or a medical professional in order to lessen the impact or side effects of the withdrawal.

Steroid de-addiction or withdrawal treatment

Steroid de-addiction or withdrawal treatment is normally done via a steroid tapering program, where the dose of the steroid intake is gradually withdrawn so that the withdrawal symptoms can be reduced. Some of the symptoms that people may experience when steroids are being withdrawn are:

  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Depression and apathy
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia
  • Fatigue

The most dangerous side effect of steroid withdrawal is depression and it can be quite long-lasting and intense. Sometimes people may also experience suicidal thoughts or can attempt suicide during the process of withdrawal. To avoid any major negative effects and ensure safety during the de-addiction and withdrawal process, people should seek the help of mental and medical health professionals. Most often, the de-addiction process can be achieved as an outpatient treatment. However, if the person is abusing steroids along with other substances, then a residential or inpatient rehabilitation program may be required.

Nevertheless, the treatment of abuse, dependence on and addiction to anabolic steroids is not very harmful and easy to manage in the short run. Continued treatment and counselling can help to lessen the risk of relapse and can help to understand the factors that influence and lead to steroid usage and abuse.

Steroid usage is hazardous and has plenty of ill effects and steroids are not good for you. Steroid abuse is akin to the “Russian Roulette”. While five people may use these steroids and have no problems, even in the long run, the sixth may end up dying.