Anabolic steroids are prescribed or illegally obtained by people who desire a stronger physical appearance and to develop muscle mass in a short period of time, usually resulting in boosted confidence and self-esteem. There are more than 100 kinds of anabolic steroids, yet only a small portion have been cleared for medical use.

Though steroids don’t chemically produce a state of euphoria or a “high” like a typical addictive substance, those who continuously abuse these drugs are at risk of developing an addiction. Anabolic steroids are addictive due to two main factors. The first is the behavior of many individuals with substance use disorders, which is the compulsion to seek out and use anabolic steroids. The second is the emergence of withdrawal symptoms due to the user cutting back or stopping using steroids altogether. 

The obsessive-compulsive behavior to keep using anabolic steroids often starts when the steroids enhance physical strength and appearance in a short time period, which can eventually result in an addiction developing.

Other signs of an addiction include:

  • Spending a large amount of money and time acquiring or using steroids
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home or in the workplace
  • Continuing to use steroids despite the apparent physical side effects
  • Experiencing persistent issues with family and friends
  • Severe depression as a result of withdrawal

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are synthetic drugs that imitates testosterone, the male sex hormone. The complete name of these drugs is “anabolic-androgenic steroids.” The word “anabolic” is in reference to the drug’s muscle-building effects, and “androgenic” refers to its masculinizing effects.

There is another kind of steroid known as corticosteroids; these shouldn’t be confused with anabolic steroids. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, are often used to treat allergic reactions. These steroids don’t have the same effects as anabolic steroids, as they don’t facilitate muscle growth and don’t mimic the male sex hormone.

There are three common ways people abuse anabolic steroids. They are:

  • Cycling – Cycling is a process of taking steroids during predetermined periods of time, usually 6-12 weeks. Users who are cycling take multiple doses for several weeks, stop for several weeks, and then start taking the steroids again. Steroid abusers use off-cycles to allow the body to produce its own testosterone and to reduce damage to internal organs.
  • Pyramiding – Pyramiding is a method of taking steroids during a cycle. At the beginning of the cycle, users start with a low dose and gradually increase to a maximum dose mid-cycle. In the second half of the cycle, the user slowly tapers down their steroid dose.
  • Stacking – Stacking is taking multiple types of steroids at once or mixing oral and injectable formulations. Many steroid abusers believe feel that this increases results, but this method has not been scientifically proven.

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