Anabolic steroids are often used to improve one’s athletic performance. Other reasons for using anabolic steroids are to increase muscle size or reduce body fat. Many people who abuse this form of steroid suffer from body dysmorphia, meaning that they view themselves as “small” “weak” “fat” or “flabby” even when the person looks quite the opposite. Steroid use has been linked to childhood physical or sexual abuse, as many people who have experienced this form of trauma have indicated taking steroids to increase their muscle size.

When someone takes steroids, the androgen within it suppresses the natural formation of testosterone in the body and, in males, could lead to a decrease in testicle size, decreased sperm production, infertility, and baldness. Conversely, the excess testosterone could be converted to estrogen in males, leading them to enlarged breasts. For women who abuse steroids, the excess testosterone may cause them to have a deeper voice, changes in their menstrual cycle, and increased hair production, as well as baldness.

There are several risks posed when steroids are abused: acne, liver damage, heart enlargement, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels, elevated blood sugar levels, heart attack, excitation and depression. Adolescents are particularly at risk because their bodies are still developing; abusing steroids could stunt their growth and cause other dangerous side effects. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that less than 6 percent of athletes abuse steroids, but they fear that it may be more widespread than reported.

Steroids are often abused by “cycling”, which involves taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period, stopping for a brief period, and then starting again. Users may also take several types of steroids on top of one another, a process known as “stacking”. When people do this, they hope that taking different types will help their muscle size increase faster.

If you suspect someone of abusing steroids, stay cautious for these signs: rapid weight gain, unusual mood swings, increased aggressiveness, and acne. The best way to help someone who is abusing steroids is to have them speak to a doctor. Treatment often includes behavioral therapy, and may include medication to help withdrawal symptoms. Psychotherapy may also be a great option, as the person can work through any body dysmorphic concerns and be on their way towards healthier living. Speaking with a healthcare professional can help a person get more information on steroid usage and resources that can help them overcome this issue.


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