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Steroid Addiction

Steroid addiction is just as destructive as any other substance addiction, causing severe physical, mental and emotional harm that may be permanent. If you or someone you know is abusing steroids, Synergy’s steroid addiction treatment center in Bakersfield, CA offers medical and psychological help in overcoming steroid addiction. Call us today to learn more about steroid addiction and treatment at 661-878-9100.

Similar to the chemical composition of testosterone, anabolic steroids are sometimes prescribed by doctors to treat certain health problems such as hormone imbalances, delayed puberty and extreme muscle loss caused by advanced cancer or AIDS. When abused by people who want to boost their athletic performance or improve their physique, steroids foster development of serious physical, emotional and mental health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Who Abuses Steroids and Why?

Research information regarding the addictive potential of anabolic steroids is ongoing and far from cumulative. Neither the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders nor the American Society of Addiction Medicine has yet to recognize steroid addiction as a disease. However, physician-reported evidence indicating steroid addiction does exist and is rapidly promoting the validity of widespread steroid abuse.

Steroid abusers behave in ways resembling the drug-seeking behaviors of drug and alcohol abusers. Not only do they experience an overwhelming urge or craving to keep using steroids, but they also suffer withdrawal symptoms within 24 to 48 hours after they stop taking steroids.

What little research there is available about steroid addiction indicates steroid use usually begins when someone wants to improve their strength, stamina and/or athletic abilities by “bulking up”, i.e., building muscle mass. Psychologists suggest steroid abuse may also stem from body dysmorphia, a psychological disorder causing a person — mostly men, in this case — to see themselves as physically unattractive. And, like drug addicts, steroid addicts will also continue using steroids even though they are aware the potential for suffering serious health problems exist.

Are Steroids Really Addictive?

Acting like mood-elevating antidepressants, steroids cause abusers to suffer “estrogen rebound” when they abstain from using steroids. This happens because estrogen isn’t released when users are taking steroids during a “cycle.” Upon cessation of the steroid cycle, estrogen release resumes, only in huge amounts. Excess estrogen is known to cause severe depression, fatigue and anxiety in people addicted to steroids. Brain wave scans have also shown that both injectable and oral steroid use alters brain wave activity the same way antidepressants and stimulants affect brain waves.

What Is the Difference Between Safe Use of Steroids and Steroid Abuse?

When prescribed by doctors for a testosterone deficiency or illness, dosage is generally 50-100 milligrams weekly and meant for short-term use only. Steroid addicts may begin at a therapeutic dosage but will quickly increase dosing amounts to as much as 1000+ milligrams per week. In addition, steroid abusers often “stack” or combine anabolic steroids with other muscle- or strength-enhancing drugs.

Physical and Psychological Effects of Steroid Abuse

Steroids have androgenic, or masculinizing, and anabolic effects on men and women. Androgenic effects include:

  • Voice deepening, especially in women
  • Increased growth of facial hair
  • Enlargement of male sex glands initially, with a reversal of this growth occurring in long-term abuse
  • Muscle mass growth

Anabolic effects of steroids involve:

  • Acne
  • Enlargement of some internal organs
  • Shrinkage of testicles/reduced sperm count
  • Breast development in men
  • Male-pattern baldness in women
  • Irregularity or cessation of menstrual cycles
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic headaches
  • Swelling of ankles, feet and hands due to fluid retention

Although steroids are not responsible for hair loss in men, steroids can accelerate balding in men who are genetically prone to lose their hair. This happens because anabolic steroids are mostly converted into a dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a sex steroid influencing male baldness and hair loss.

Psychological effects of steroid abuse are both unpleasant and frightening to family members and friends of a steroid addict. Changes in personality and temperament may not be evident for several months, or until the addiction has overwhelmed the steroid addict’s ability to stop taking steroids.

Emotional and mental signs of steroid addiction include:

  • Unpredictable and extreme mood changes, or “‘roid rage”
  • Being uncharacteristically abusive, either physically or verbally
  • Showing a callous, uncaring attitude towards others’ suffering
  • Increased irritability and aggressive behavior
  • Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming secretive and evasive
  • Making poor decisions due to feelings of irrational invincibility
  • Severe depression between cycling
  • Paranoid thoughts and illogically fearing or mistrusting others for no reason
  • Visual and/or audio hallucinations

Long-term steroid addiction also causes these potentially life-threatening health problems:

  • Hypertension/high blood pressure, as steroids increase hematocrit levels and red blood cell counts
  • Increased LDL cholesterol, which raises risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis
  • Coronary problems and heart failure resulting from an enlarged left ventricle
  • Liver damage/tumors
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart attack
  • Development of blood clots/stroke
  • Enlarged prostate, which may increase the risk of prostate cancer
  • Increased risk of contracting HIV by reusing or sharing needles

How to Tell If You or Someone You Know Is Addicted to Steroids

Regularly injecting large amounts of steroids, experiencing the physical and psychological effects of steroid abuse and suffering withdrawal symptoms are the primary signs of a steroid addiction. How often someone abuses steroids determines the time it takes to withdraw from steroids.

Common symptoms of steroid withdrawal include:

  • Depression, anxiety or extreme fatigue
  • Bad headaches or migraines
  • Difficulty focusing/brain fog
  • Insomnia, sleep disturbances or nightmares
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

Outpatient Steroid Addiction Treatment in Bakersfield

Synergy Recovery Services can help you or someone you know manage a steroid addiction through therapeutic counseling to address mental health issues driving the compulsion to use steroids. Many clients seeking steroid addiction help at our center suffer from depression, anxiety and/or body dysmorphia disorder. Clients with BDD have distorted perceptions about their physical appearance, often seeing themselves as fat when they are thin or weak even though they have normal musculature.

We use cognitive behavioral therapy and other counseling techniques to resolve mental health problems affecting clients addicted to steroids. Treatment programs are outpatient programs, which allow clients to return home every day following participation in our daytime Synergy Recovery Services.

Please call Synergy today at 661-878-9100 to learn more about our steroid addiction treatment program.



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