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Steroids

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I want to learn about treatment options for:


2 Basic Information
The Person is:
years old


graduated high school

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Caron Treatment Centers accepts patients aged 13 years or older. For more information on services available to those 12 and under, please learn more about Caron's Student Assistance Program.
What are steroids?

Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are synthetically produced variations of the male sex hormone testosterone. While these drugs can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from hormone deficiency (delayed puberty) and loss of lean muscle (cancer, AIDS), steroids are occasionally abused by both athletes and non-athletes in an attempt to improve physical performance and/or appearance. Steroids disrupt normal hormone production, causing changes in behavior and in many systems of the body.

Doctors never prescribe anabolic steroids to young, healthy people to help them build muscles. Without a prescription from your physician, anabolic steroids are illegal.

Steroid abuse and addiction.

Abuse of anabolic steroids differs from the abuse of other illicit substances: initial abuse of anabolic steroids is not driven by the immediate pleasure or euphoria that motivates cocaine, heroin or marijuana use. Instead, users take steroids in order to change their physical appearances or athletic performances. Because steroids can cause confidence and strength, abusers often overlook their serious and long-term consequences.

Steroids can be taken orally, rubbed into the skin or injected. Typically, users take steroids in cycles—using for periods of weeks or months, stopping for a period of time, and then starting again. During this process, known as cycling, users often take a cocktail of several different types of steroids in an attempt to maximize their effects, a practice referred to as stacking. Oral and injectable steroids are often mixed. Another type of steroid abuse, known as pyramiding, involves slowly increasing the amount of steroids taken until they peak mid-cycle and then tapering dosage as the cycle ends.

Steroid abuse is dangerous. It can cause addiction and withdrawal upon cessation. Withdrawal symptoms include mood swings, insomnia and, most notably, severe depression (which occasionally leads to suicide attempts.) Often, abusers turn to other drugs in an attempt to counteract these symptoms. Individuals who abuse steroids are urged to seek treatment before they cause lasting damage to their health and lives.

How steroids affect users.

In the short term, abuse of anabolic steroids can lead to aggression, extreme mood swings and manic-like symptoms that may lead to violence. Additionally, users may experience extreme irritability, delusions, intense anger (roid rage), paranoid jealously and feelings of invincibility that may impair judgment. Furthermore, because steroids are often injected, users who share needles or use non-sterile techniques are at risk for contracting dangerous infections, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C.

Longer-term abuse of steroids results in a variety of adverse side effects and serious (often irreversible) health problems such as liver damage, jaundice, fluid retention, high blood pressure, increased LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreased in HDL (good cholesterol). Abuse can also cause renal failure, severe acne, oily scalp, heart attacks, stroke, tendon rupture and trembling. Teens who abuse steroids risk stunted growth due to premature skeletal maturation.

In addition to these general side effects, steroid use also causes gender and age-specific side effects:

Men

  • Hormonal disruption that results in infertility
  • Breast development
  • Baldness
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Increased risk of prostate cancer
  • Shrinking of the testicles

Women

  • Enlargement of the clitoris
  • Disruption of menses
  • Excessive facial and body hair growth
  • Deepened voice
  • Male-pattern baldness

Signs of steroid abuse and addiction.

There are several signs that a person has become addicted to steroids, including a preoccupation with getting the next dose; continued use in spite of negative consequences; loss of control when it comes to steroid use; abnormal speed of muscle growth; and withdrawal symptoms upon rapidly curtailed or discontinued use.

Treating steroid abuse and addiction.

If you or someone you care for is struggling with steroid abuse, professional rehabilitation can help. Learn more.