Anabolic steroids help to build muscle and are considered performance-enhancing drugs. Corticosteroids, which block allergic reactions and inflammation related to allergic reactions, are related to cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands. Typically, anabolic steroids are abused more frequently, but corticosteroids have been associated with substance abuse as well.
People who struggle with anabolic steroid abuse typically want to develop larger muscles, increase strength, and lower body fat. Unlike other kinds of substance abuse, anabolic steroid abuse is specifically about enhancing appearance, with no other associated euphoria. Teenage boys are more likely to struggle with anabolic steroid abuse, often due to body dysmorphia and reverse anorexia.
Anabolic steroids may also produce hedonic effects, which are pleasurable feelings of power, aggression, and self-confidence. These effects are different than euphoria. They may wear off as the dose of steroid wears off, reinforcing the desire to take more of the substance.
There are several health problems for both men and women who abuse anabolic steroids, including:
It is important to stop abusing anabolic steroids before life-threatening conditions occur. Working with a doctor to taper the amount of steroid ingested is very important.
Symptoms from withdrawal from anabolic steroids include:
Quitting the drug suddenly can lead to relapse and acute physical harm.
If a person presents with manic or psychotic symptoms before or early in the detox process, their doctor may prescribe small amounts of antipsychotic or anti-manic medicines to ease their withdrawal symptom. Psychosis related to steroid abuse typically resolves after two weeks at most, so long-term prescriptions are not necessary.
The most problematic symptom during anabolic steroid withdrawal is depression, so this condition may be treated with an SSRI antidepressant if it persists after the detox process is complete. Long-term physical changes like infertility or sex drive issues may be treated with hormone therapy if they are distressing.
A taper allows the brain to become re-accustomed to producing a sufficient amount of cortisol without the help of medication
Detoxing from steroids is the first step in getting appropriate treatment; after that, many people have found behavioral therapy, in both individual and group sessions, to be helpful to understanding the impulse to abuse substances. People who struggle with anabolic steroid abuse may also have underlying body image problems or depression, which contributed to the substance abuse, and it is important to seek out a rehabilitation program that specializes in co-occurring disorders. Appropriate psychotherapy to help with depression or body dysmorphia should continue after the rehabilitation program is completed.