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Steroid Abuse Fact Sheet

Steroid Abuse

Authored by Connie North Ph. D

Steroids are a class of drugs used to speed up muscle growth, alter appearance and improve performance in sports. There are various types of steroids, but the types of steroids used by athletes are known as anabolic steroids. These are chemicals that abnormally mimic androgenic testosterone, causing the body to build protein at an unnaturally fast rate. This causes athletes to develop muscles more quickly than they would via the body’s natural processes.

Although it might seem like a good idea to use steroids, they’re risky and dangerous. They can cause lifelong problems such as liver disease, problems with skin, hair and reproductive organs, heart attack and stroke. Steroids are especially dangerous for teens, since they cause major issues with growth and development. They can also be addictive.

Types of Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids come in different forms and are labeled under various brands, such as:

  • Androstenedione
  • Nandrolone (Deca-Durabolin)
  • Methandrostenolone (Dianabol)
  • Testosterone (Axiron, Androderm, Androgel, Delatestryl, Fortesta, Striant, Testim, Testopel)
  • Stanozolol (Azolol, Rexobol, Rexogin, Stano-10, Stombear Stanazolol, Venaject, Winaflex, Winstrol)

Effects and Risks of Steroid Abuse

When someone takes steroids, either orally or by injection, their body begins to produce unnatural amounts of protein. As a result, when they exercise, their muscle tissue, bones and other tissues grow abnormally quickly – this is the effect steroid users often seek. But these drugs have serious side effects. Adolescents who use steroids can experience developmental problems, including stunted growth and issues with sexual development. They can also cause lifelong problems with bone strength.

Steroids also affect sex-specific characteristics. Men who use steroids often experience unnatural growth of breast tissue, infertility, premature hair loss and testicle shrinkage. Women who use steroids often experience the deepening of their voice, as well as abnormal body hair growth and irregularities with their menstrual cycle. Steroids also cause the body to produce extra acne, and they can cause mood swings and aggression.

Beyond these effects, repeated steroid use can lead to heart attacks, liver disease, stroke and chemical addiction. Attempts to quit using steroids results in withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, body aches, anxiety and depression (called steroid withdrawal syndrome).

How Young People Misuse Steroids

Steroid users tend to be teen and young adult men, but women use them too.  People who use steroids take them either orally or by injection and tend to obtain them from friends, online stores or even from people at the gym.

Signs and Symptoms of Steroid Abuse

If you’re concerned that your child is abusing steroids, here are some of the warning signs to watch for:

  • New interest in workouts, frequent bodybuilding
  • Syringes or packaging for steroids in trash
  • Increased acne
  • Oily hair and skin
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression (known as “roid rage”)
  • In women: deepening of voice, development of body hair
  • In men: development of breast tissue, loss of hair
  • Needle marks
  • Need for money
  • Weight gain and increase in muscle mass

What to do if You Think Your Child is Using Anabolic Steroids

If your teen or young adult is abusing steroids, it’s important that they receive professional treatment and support. Often, this problem goes beyond merely the desire to perform well in sports to issues with body image and self-esteem.

Sandstone Care can help. We’ve treated a lot of people with similar problems, helping them to move forward with their healthy and successful lives. Our compassionate team is on hand seven days a week to answer your questions about how to talk to your kid and what treatment options are available. Give us a call today at 888-850-1890 to learn more.

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