Anabolic steroid misuse

Anabolic steroids are prescription-only drugs that can occasionally be consumed against medical recommendation in order to gain muscle bulk and enhance sports performance.

If used this way, they can lead to severe negative effects and addiction.

Artificial substances known as anabolic steroids imitate the effects of the male hormone testosterone. They are not the same as corticosteroids, a separate class of steroid medication that is more frequently used, and they have few medicinal applications.

Are anabolic steroids illegal?

Anabolic steroids are class C medications that require a prescription to be distributed by a pharmacist.

Having anabolic steroids for personal use is acceptable. If done in person, they can also be imported or exported. Hence, they cannot be sent over the mail or delivered by a courier or freight company.

If you’re suspected of distributing or selling anabolic steroids, possessing, importing, or exporting them is against the law. These can also be given to friends. The punishment is an infinite fine or potentially a 14-year prison term.

The majority of professional sports organizations prohibit the usage of anabolic steroids and test athletes for these substances. You can be barred from participating in professional competitions if you test positive.

Why people misuse anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids can be used as performance-enhancing medications that reduce body fat and build muscle mass, but they also have a number of negative side effects. Some people consume them regularly to enhance their physical capabilities and grow their bodies.

Nonetheless, persons of all ages, including teenage boys with body dysmorphic disorder, have been known to abuse these medicines. A person with this mental illness spends much time fretting about physical imperfections. Others frequently overlook these shortcomings.

Because they believe their bodies aren’t big or strong enough, those with body dysmorphic disorder may utilize anabolic steroids.

Some people believe taking anabolic steroids will help them become fit and healthy. This isn’t true: taking anabolic steroids is a dangerous drug habit.

How anabolic steroids are taken

Anabolic steroids can also be found as creams or gels that are administered topically. Typically, anabolic steroids are injected into a muscle or taken orally as pills.

Many anabolic steroid users know the risks associated with using the medications and think that using them in specific ways will help them avoid negative side effects. Perhaps they might take more medication to try to lessen the negative effects.

Users might:

  • Take the drugs for a period of time and then stop for a rest period before starting again. This is known as “cycling.”
  • Take more than one type of anabolic steroid at a time, known as “stacking”, which they believe makes the steroids work better.
  • Do a combination of stacking and cycling, known as “pyramiding”, where they start off taking a low dose of one or more anabolic steroids and then increase the dose over time up to a maximum dose. They then stop taking them for rest to give the body a break before starting the cycle again.

Yet, there is no proof that these techniques lessen the negative effects and risks of using anabolic steroids.

Users tend to exercise more while taking high doses to maximize their enhanced performance during this time.

Side effects of anabolic steroids

Regularly taking anabolic steroids can lead to physical and psychological changes in both men and women and potentially dangerous medical conditions.

Physical effects

Effects of anabolic steroids in men can include:

In women, anabolic steroids can cause:

  • facial hair growth and body hair
  • loss of breasts
  • swelling of the clitoris
  • a deepened voice
  • an increased sex drive
  • problems with periods
  • hair loss
  • severe acne

In addition, both men and women who take anabolic steroids can develop any of the following medical conditions:

  • heart attack or stroke
  • liver or kidney problems or failure
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • blood clots
  • fluid retention
  • high cholesterol

Psychological effects

Misusing anabolic steroids can also cause the following psychological or emotional effects:

  • aggressive behavior
  • mood swings
  • paranoia
  • manic behavior
  • hallucinations and delusions

Stunted growth in adolescents

Anabolic steroids accelerate bone growth, so if they’re misused by adolescents who haven’t yet had the growth spurt associated with puberty, the drugs can cause premature aging of the bones and restricted growth.

Sharing needles

As anabolic steroids are often injected, there are risks associated with sharing needles. These are the same risks associated with recreational drug use and include:

  • damage to veins, leading to ulcers or gangrene
  • hepatitis B infection
  • hepatitis C infection
  • HIV transmission


Anabolic steroids are addictive. This means you can crave the drug, require more to get the same effect, and have withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it.

People addicted to anabolic steroids will want to keep using them despite experiencing unpleasant physical side effects.

When doctors prescribe steroid medication, they always advise coming off the medication slowly by gradually reducing the dose.

Coming off anabolic steroids suddenly can result in withdrawal symptoms that include:

  • depression and apathy
  • feelings of anxiety
  • difficulty concentrating
  • insomnia
  • anorexia
  • decreased sex drive
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • headaches
  • muscle and joint pain

Getting help 

You should see a doctor if you’re addicted to anabolic steroids. Treatment for an addiction to anabolic steroids will be similar to that of other types of addiction.

The doctor may refer you to a specially trained drug counselor. They’ll discuss your addiction with you, how to safely stop taking steroids, and any obstacles you may face when trying to stop, plus tips for dealing with those obstacles.