Anabolic Steroids Addiction Help & Treatment
The official name for anabolic steroids is anabolic-androgenic steroids, but they can be referred to using the slang terms ‘juice’, ‘roids’, and ‘the white stuff’.
Anabolic steroids are sometimes used to increase an individual’s testosterone when their natural levels are too low, which can be particularly helpful for people who are anaemic.
However, some people use anabolic steroids illegally and not in response to a health condition they are suffering from.
People use steroids to build muscle easily, which is why we often associate this drug use problem with bodybuilders. When these individuals take steroids, they may find that they are stronger, and they can recover from workouts faster.
Anabolic steroids have been linked to body dysmorphic disorder in some men, as they believe they need to appear incredibly muscular in order to be happy with their body, and steroids is the only way they can achieve this in an extreme way (1).
There are oral and injectable forms of anabolic steroids. Some common oral forms are: oxymetholone, methandienone, fluoxymesterone, oxandrolone, stanozolol, methyltestosterone, mibolerone, and mesterolone.
Injectables include testosterone propionate, testosterone cypionate, testosterone enanthate, methenolone enanthate, nandrolone decanoate, boldenone undecylenate, and trenbolone acetate (2).
How Do People Access Anabolic Steroids?
Anabolic steroids are only available by prescription, so you cannot get them over the counter. They are a class C drug. Many people who use anabolic steroids illegally steal the medication, or borrow it from someone who is on a prescription.
How Do People Take Anabolic Steroids?
As discussed above, anabolic steroids can be injected or taken orally. They can even be applied in the form of a cream or gel.
Generally, people begin taking anabolic steroids by consuming them orally, as they stay in your system for a shorter period of time this way, which is better for people who may be drug tested. Then, some people eventually turn to injectables as they are less damaging to the body.
There are different types of methods people adopt when it comes to the consumption of anabolic steroids, and some of the most common are: pyramiding, cycling, and plateauing.
Pyramiding means gradually increasing your dose of anabolic steroids for a set period of time, and then gradually decreasing the dose for the remainder of the cycle. These cycles usually last for 6-12 weeks, so people begin to decrease the dose after 3-6 weeks.
This means that the body isn’t being pumped with a high dose of steroids constantly, so it is under less pressure. There may even be periods of no medication, which gives the body a break from the steroids.
The method of cycling is when users take more than one dose of steroids for a set amount of time, then stop completely, and then start again. Sometimes, cycling involves taking different types of steroids in an attempt to gain even more muscle.
Finally, plateauing is when people try to avoid being dependent on steroids, so they plan breaks in their use, or they use different types of steroids at different times so that they don’t become tolerant on just one type.
What are Some Signs Of Anabolic Steroid Addiction?
The signs that someone may be addicted to anabolic steroids are similar to the general signs of drug addiction.
If you notice significant changes in someone’s behaviour, this may be a sign. Perhaps they are experiencing mood swings, they are suddenly very defensive, or they go from being very sociable to very isolated. This indicates they are struggling to manage the highs and lows of addiction.
Another key sign is if someone becomes very secretive. They may be worried about you finding out about their anabolic steroid use, so they may distance themselves from you, be less open with you, and get defensive if you question them.
Finally, look out for the physical signs of addiction. If someone close to you is suddenly building muscle very fast and they seem to be fixated on their body image, this is a red flag for anabolic steroid addiction.
What are the Symptoms Of Anabolic Steroid Addiction?
There are physical and psychological symptoms of anabolic steroid addiction. The physical symptoms are different for men and women.
Some physical symptoms for men are:
- Low sperm count
- Shrunken testicles
- Prostate cancer
- Erectile dysfunction
- and Enlarged breasts.
Women may struggle with:
- Deepened voice
- Weight gain
- Excess body hair
- Enlarged clitoris
- Hair loss
- An irregular menstrual cycle
- and Tremors.
As for psychological symptoms, the main thing that anabolic steroid addiction tends to affect is your mood. Users may experience major mood swings, and they may even develop a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. Mania is also a common symptom of anabolic steroid addiction.
What are the Risk Factors Of Anabolic Steroid Addiction?
Anyone with body dysmorphic disorder is more likely to develop an addiction to anabolic steroids. This is because they already struggle with body image, so it is more likely that they will turn to medication to achieve their ideal body type.
As they have a warped view of themselves, they may struggle to control their use of steroids due to wanting the highest dose, and this could quickly lead to an addiction.
Anabolic steroid addiction is much more common among men than women (3). These men do tend to be athletes, which is logical as anabolic steroids help you to build muscle mass.
People with poor mental health are more likely to develop an anabolic steroid addiction, particularly if they have depression or suicidal thoughts.
This may be because they struggle to maintain rational thought about their body image, and they feel intense negative emotions when they see themselves in the mirror, leading to them using steroids to change themselves.
The most popular age range for anabolic steroid addiction is 20-30, with 85% of anabolic steroid users being male recreational weightlifters under the age of 35 (4). However, most people begin to use steroids in their early 20s.
Home Detoxing For Anabolic Steroid Addiction
You could have a home detox to withdraw from anabolic steroids gradually and safely. The process begins with a pre-assessment, where medical professionals will determine the severity of your addiction, the state of your mental health, and various other things that may influence how your home detox should be.
Before you begin the detox, you will receive prescription medication to keep the process as comfortable as possible. Not everyone is given the same medication, so the team will speak to you about what they are going to give you.
You may be offered drugs to help with cravings, seizures, and anxiety.
As you detox, the team will keep in touch with you to check how you are getting on. You will also be able to contact them for help or advice at any time, thanks to the helpline you will be provided with.
It also works for people who want to stay at home with their partner for moral support, rather than going to rehab with people they don’t know.
That being said, certain people should avoid home detoxing.
If your addiction is severe, home detoxing is not what you need – instead, you need to make sure you are constantly being monitored at rehab, otherwise it is very unlikely that you will be able to stay sober, and you will be at risk of experiencing dangerous withdrawal symptoms alone.
Outpatient Treatment For Anabolic Steroid Addiction
People who are taking high doses of anabolic steroids, or who have been addicted for many years, should definitely consider going to outpatient rehab instead of home detox. There will be more support, given that the patient has to attend the rehab facility on a daily basis for detoxing and therapy.
There are many different types of rehab centres across the UK, so if you get in touch with us, we can find one that’s right for you.
Consider which facilities you want in your rehab centre (common rooms, sports facilities etc), the price you are willing to pay, the location you want your treatment centre to be in, and the ideal size for your treatment centre.
If you already know what you want before you call us up, we will be able to find you a centre very quickly. However, don’t worry if you don’t have time to do the research – we are more than happy to help you with this and to guide you towards a facility that meets your needs.
We only recommend outpatient treatment to people who could not feasibly attend inpatient rehab, as it is easier to fall into temptation when you are getting to return to your everyday environment at the end of each day.
Inpatient Treatment For Anabolic Steroid Addiction
You can choose to lengthen or shorten this stay, but 28 days is the standard time as personalised treatment plans are usually designed to last a month.
When you first enter rehab, you will detox from anabolic steroids for the first few days or weeks. This is the safest way to detox, as someone will always be around in case you experience serious withdrawal symptoms or you need medication to help with the detox.
The reason you have therapy every day is that you need to have an intense focus on recovery, otherwise it is less likely that you will be able to stay sober permanently.
Having a range of therapy is also important as no one responds in the same way to one type of therapy, so rehab staff like to introduce you to a wide range to see what works for you.
For example, some people thrive on the logic of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), whereas others find it useless as they already know their thoughts are irrational, so they would benefit more from trauma-based therapy or perhaps counselling.
Each day at rehab will look slightly different, but you will always be engaging in therapy, eating healthy meals, enjoying downtime, and taking part in the odd educational workshop or motivational session.
Before you are ready to leave, you will meet with the staff to help them with your aftercare plan.
At this stage, you will be able to make suggestions about what type of support you believe you will need in the 12 months following inpatient treatment. For example, if you know that you would benefit from regular check-ins as a form of accountability, you can put this forward and it will be written into your aftercare plan.
In this sense, you are not leaving rehab for good, as you will still be in contact with staff for a full year after you finish treatment.
We encourage our clients to make the most of this year, which often looks like getting in touch with the rehab facility with any concerns they have, accepting any therapy sessions they provide, and always answering when they call to check up on you.
Some people are concerned that they will relapse after leaving rehab, and this is a valid concern as it is not extremely uncommon.
You can reduce your risk of relapse by helping put together a strong aftercare plan, and following the advice of rehab staff regarding how you can make changes to your lifestyle.
However, if you do end up relapsing, it is not the end of your recovery. We strongly recommend that you inform the staff of your struggles, as they can help you get back on track.
They know that relapsing is very common for people with addiction, so they will not be judgemental.
Self-Help For Anabolic Steroid Addiction
Self-help is the least intense type of anabolic steroid addiction treatment, as it simply involves attending meetings of your own will, and adopting coping mechanisms that are believed to promote sobriety.
However, self-help can be very useful when employed after inpatient treatment. If you commit to attending weekly self-help meetings, it can help you to resist temptation when it comes to using steroids, as you know that you are going to be held accountable each week.
It can also be great to get involved with a community of people who all have shared experience of addiction. They say you are who you spend time with, so the more sober friends you make, the more likely it is that you will prioritise sobriety.
In terms of coping mechanisms you can use, the best way to get inspiration for this is to speak to a therapist and ask them for their top tips.
Some suggestions we have heard in the past are: challenging negative thoughts, tracking your recovery and rewarding yourself when you hit certain milestones, distracting yourself, and putting your energy into something else e.g., a new hobby or family life.
Finding a Local Rehab Facility For Anabolic Steroid Addiction
We can help you to find a local treatment centre if you get in touch with us on 0800 088 66 86. Whether you want to recover in your hometown or further afield, we are prepared to find a referral for you as soon as possible.
If you are reading this and you do not have an addiction to anabolic steroids, but to something else, we can still help. Have a look at all the types of addiction we have dealt with, from addiction to ecstasy, crack cocaine and prescription drugs, to behavioural addictions such as gambling, shopping, and sex/love.
We also have a list of all of the possible treatments you could have for anabolic steroid addiction and other addictions. Some common treatments include: therapy (CBT, DBT, holistic therapies, contingency management, EMDR), detoxing, and fellowship groups (Narcotics Anonymous, Smart Recovery).
We know that it may seem easier to put off treatment due to the challenges it may create, but it will be much easier to recover now than further down the line, when you are even more dependent on anabolic steroids.
Even if you are not experiencing a full-blown addiction, and it is just a dependency at the moment, we still encourage you to reach out to us so that you can get sober as soon as possible and enjoy a life without drugs.
If you have never taken anabolic steroids and you are tempted to, let this be your warning. There is no benefit that outweighs the dangers of using steroids; it can destroy your body and mind in a very short period of time.
If you are struggling with your body image or low self-esteem, you need to target that by seeing a therapist, rather than trying to self-medicate.
Having said that, we know that it is easier said than done, and we are big proponents of the disease model of addiction here at Rehab Recovery.
This means that we believe drug users are victims, and they need support rather than judgement, so we will never belittle you for using anabolic steroids. Instead, we will explain the dangers of doing this, and encourage you to pursue sobriety.
 Why are anabolic steroids misused? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/why-are-anabolic-steroids-misused
 Anabolic steroids: What you should know https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/246373
 Who uses anabolic steroids? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/who-uses-anabolic-steroids#:~:text=The%20vast%20majority%20of%20people,in%20their%2020s%20or%2030s.&text=Contrary%20to%20popular%20belief%2C%20only,steroid%20users%20started%20as%20teenagers